Mindfulness and Anxiety Around the Holidays
The holidays are supposed to be full of cheer and celebration. But for so many of us, they are a time of increased stress and anxiety. This can result from a number of things, such as feeling as though there is not enough time, pressure from upcoming family gatherings, gift-giving, holiday travel, and financial worries related to all of the above. We also tend to see quite a bit on social media of what the holidays are supposed to look like, even though we know it is often not an accurate depiction of what the holidays are like for most of us. And now, due to the pandemic, there is the added stress of how these current times impact the holiday season.
Throughout the years, I've experienced anxiety around the holidays for various reasons, including some of the ones I mentioned above. Last year, my anxiety was triggered for reasons related to the pandemic, and this year, it has been triggered for reasons related to multiple changes that have happened throughout the year. Mindfulness, one of my go-to strategies for coping with anxiety, has become critical for me to practice.
How Mindfulness Helps Anxiety
Mindfulness is a helpful strategy for anxiety for several reasons. When you practice mindfulness, you focus on the present without judgment. Therefore, you allow yourself to experience the emotions, thoughts, and feelings and everything you take in through your senses with self-awareness. Mindfulness involves focusing on the moment and staying grounded.
When I practice mindfulness, I find that I focus on the present without focusing on memories that are painful or worrying about the future. Because I am focused on the present, this helps to reduce focus on what causes stress, and so the physical symptoms I usually experience with anxiety tend to settle and calm.
Using Mindfulness to Help Anxiety During the Holidays
Practicing mindfulness takes time and patience, but there are benefits to intentionally incorporating this into your day, especially during these stressful times. I have found that there are ways that I can make it a point to practice mindfulness. These are some beneficial strategies that can be used:
- Set aside expectations. First of all, keep in mind that our expectations -- or others' expectations -- of what the holidays should look like do not necessarily match up to what they actually are or what they should be. Try setting aside your expectations of the holidays and, instead, focus on what they mean to you. I find that shifting my viewpoint of what the holidays should look like is helpful for bringing about enjoyment of the season.
- Focus on gratitude. Take time to focus on what you are grateful for. In the midst of all of the hustle and bustle during busy holiday festivities, take the time to think about things that you are thankful for. You may find that this helps to center you during stressful times. I have found that gratitude has many benefits, including staying grounded, which is helpful for anxiety.
- Take a breath. In the middle of family gatherings, especially if you are dealing with conflicts that often are a part of get-togethers, or if you simply find that you are particularly busy during the holiday season, make sure to take breaks and take time to breathe. Concentrate on your breath and practice meditation if possible. This will allow you to stay grounded and focus on the present. Taking time away from chaos is a critical strategy for me for calming my anxiety.
For more about mindfulness during the holidays, watch this.
If there are other strategies you use to calm your anxiety during these times, share them in the comments below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2021, December 21). Mindfulness and Anxiety Around the Holidays, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2021/12/mindfulness-and-anxiety-around-the-holidays
Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez
I love that you start out by discussing expectations. This is something that can play a huge role in holiday anxiety, both the expectations we put on ourselves and the ones we think we feel from others. This is such a wonderful place to begin with mindfulness, paired with a focus on gratitude and breath, I think these are wonderful tools and suggestions.
Thank you so much, Lizanne! I think it's so important to be aware of the expectations of the holidays that we place on ourselves and how that makes us feel. Using this self-awareness to then use specific strategies for coping with anxiety can be so helpful, particularly during this stressful time.
Thank you for your comments! Happy holidays!