December 19, 2018

How to Cope with Loneliness and Anxiety Around the Holidays

The holidays can be a difficult time of the year for some. Although this season brings joy to many, it can also inflict loneliness and anxiety for others. From expectations, stress and disappointment, if you are experiencing anxiety this season, you are not alone. Holidays can be a reminder of the hurt and pain from the past; it may even cause comparison to an unfulfilled expectation of holidays from the past.

Here are some ways to help reduce your anxiety, fulfill your need for connection, and help you attain inner peace this season.

Go outside. Get out of your home. Take a walk, go on a hike, ride your bike around the neighborhood, whatever it is- get up and on your feet.  Exercising can help boost your mood and energy level.

Keep a thankfulness journal. Cultivating a habitual mindset of thankfulness can positively affect your mind. By practicing thankfulness each day, your mind will strengthen its gratitude muscle to help you maintain a positive emotional state- even during difficult circumstances. When you feel stressed or upset in a situation, think about several things you are grateful for. Habits take about two-three weeks to form so actively seek out gratitude within your thoughts each day to increase your emotional wellbeing.

Limit your usage of social media. In this digital age, it can feel almost impossible to stay completely off social media. Instead of cutting social media completely off, be intentional with the way you use social media and how it makes you feel. Social media can easily sweep you away, and make you forget that people share the majority of the best moments in life, and keep the difficult ones to themselves. If you notice negative emotions, gently remind yourself of the positive things in your life. When you are around friends or family, challenge yourself to put the phone down and focus on those around you.

Reevaluate your expectations. With hundreds of commercials, it’s easy to get carried away and forget what reality looks like. Set limits this holiday with a budget and avoid taking on events and tasks you don’t enjoy. Learn to say no to prevent you from going overboard and becoming overwhelmed. If you have a fear of missing out, remind yourself that less is more. Choose to have quality connections rather than a large quantity of overwhelming commitments.

Volunteer in your community. Studies have found that volunteering can help you feel more socially connected and lower blood pressure. According to Psychology Today, “When you improve someone else’s level of joy and quality of life, you give your own sense of happiness and worthiness a boost.” Google ways to volunteer in your community. Search for a cause or an organization that captures your beliefs and values; seek out opportunities to get involved - there are endless needs and opportunities especially around the holidays.

Open up to trusted friends and family around you and let them know how you are feeling. Ask for support during this season and understand that you are not the only person feeling this way. Set time aside to do something that makes you happy each day. Recognize your negative thoughts, kindly accept the uncontrollable circumstances, and navigate your thoughts to a positive state of mind. Your feelings are valuable and are worth acknowledging. Remember, each holiday is unique and proposes new challenges and new triumphs every year. This holiday, create new memories and find your way to make each day merry and bright for a more enjoyable holiday season.


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