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Deck the halls with...anxiety? 5 Ways to Have a Mentally Merrier Christmas

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Deck the halls with...difficult family members, deadlines, cooking, cleaning, work pressure, crying kids, traditions, lonliness, and money problems...? Wait, that's not how the song goes!

The holiday season, while filled with joy and festivities, can also bring about stress and anxiety for many of us. We have obligations, responsibilities, and time with people that we normally don't have. Compounding that is the stress of finances and getting our jobs done so we can try to relax with our loved ones. As we navigate the whirlwind of gatherings, expectations, and preparations, it's crucial to prioritize mental well-being. If we don't, we might be decking a relative rather than decking the halls...

Here are five effective strategies to cope with holiday anxiety this season:

1. Mindful Breathing and Relaxation Techniques:

The power of mindfulness cannot be overstated. Take a moment each day to practice deep, intentional breathing. Incorporate mindfulness or relaxation exercises into your routine to help center your thoughts and alleviate tension. Whether it's prayer, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, diving into a physical task, or simply taking a few minutes to focus on your breath, these techniques can provide a sense of calm amid the chaos. Find that peaceful place by the tree and just be there!

2. Create Realistic Expectations:

Set realistic expectations for yourself and others during the holidays. Understand that perfection is unattainable, and it's okay not to meet every expectation. If you don't, you will inevitably experience unmet expectations that can wreak havoc on your Christmas and Holiday cheer. Establishing achievable goals and recognizing that imperfections are part of the festive season can significantly reduce the pressure you put on yourself.

Also, unspoken expectations are unrealistic when they involve another person. Then they become unmet expectations (and we experience holiday or everyday resentment). Be willing to express your expectations of others to them. Have a conversation, remember they are stressed too, and be willing to compromise!

3. Establish Boundaries and Learn to Say No:

It's essential to be mindful of your limits and not overcommit. Politely but firmly set boundaries and learn to say no when necessary. Prioritize activities that align with your well-being, and don't hesitate to decline invitations or additional responsibilities that may contribute to heightened stress levels. Your mental health should take precedence. Remember that your presence in the moment is the best present you can give others!

4. Connect with Supportive Individuals:

The holiday season is an excellent time to lean on your support network. Share your feelings with friends or family members whom you trust. Sometimes, expressing your concerns and seeking understanding can be immensely therapeutic. Whether it's a heart-to-heart conversation or simply spending quality time with loved ones, human connections play a vital role in alleviating anxiety. Isn't that one of the main reasons we are celebrating?

5. Focus on Self-Care:

Amid the hustle and bustle, don't neglect your well-being. Prioritize self-care by incorporating activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it's reading a book, taking a leisurely walk, or enjoying a warm bath, dedicating time to recharge is crucial. Remember that self-care is not selfish but a necessary aspect of maintaining mental and emotional balance. Remember to give the gift of time for self-care to others as well. That might be their most prized gift of the season!

Holiday madness can have us dreading this time of year. Strained relationships can make all of our encounters severely difficult. Navigating holiday anxiety requires a combination of self-awareness, mindfulness, and intentional choices. By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you can create a more serene and enjoyable holiday experience. Remember, the season is about the Greatest Gift ever given, joy, and connection. Taking care of your mental health allows you to fully embrace the spirit of the holidays.

If you or someone you know is struggling a little, or a lot, please reach out to us by filling out the contact form at

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