The holiday season is stressful for many people, and you could be feeling the pressure, too. Between spending money, shopping for gifts and food, entertaining friends and family, attending holiday parties, traveling to relatives’ houses and so on, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed.
What you don’t want to do is contribute to your holiday anxiety with unhealthy habits. Many of the practices we use to cope are actually harmful to our mental and physical health. If you’re feeling the pressure mounting, it’s important to take a step back, focus on what’s bothering you and work with a life coach to guide you back in the right direction.
Here are some habits that you’ll want to avoid over the holidays, as they make anxiety worse, not better.
On most days, you probably do a good job eating balanced meals to keep your energy up. But during the holidays, this can quickly change. You might be snacking more, causing you to skip meals.
However, skipping meals can make your anxiety worse. One study found that young people who skipped breakfast were more likely to report stress and depressive moods. Keep your energy up by eating your meals on time, as this will make it easier to combat anxiety.
There are few holiday parties where alcohol isn’t served, so you can expect to be offered a cocktail or glass of wine at some point. While alcohol is often thought to be a way to relax and unwind, especially at social events, it can do some serious damage to your anxiety. Here’s why.
Alcohol has effects on GABA, a chemical in the brain that normally has a relaxing effect. Small amounts of alcohol can stimulate GABA, but heavy drinking can deplete GABA. Plus, people who suffer from anxiety are more likely to have negative feelings after drinking.
Checking Social Media 24/7
Those who check social media the most tend to be the least connected. Avoid spending too much time on social media, comparing your holidays to what you’re seeing online. This will only leave you feeling depressed and anxious. Instead, limit your time on social media to a half hour or less a day and focus on enjoying the present with your friends and family.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Getting enough rest during the holidays can also be a challenge, but you don’t want to sacrifice a good night’s rest for gift wrapping or online shopping. Sleep difficulties can contribute to and intensify anxiety because they cause a spike in cortisol levels. Higher levels of cortisol lead to more anxiety. Prioritize sleep – you should be getting 7 to 9 hours every night.
Consuming Too Much Sugar or Fast Food
Aside from skipping meals, people also tend to eat too much sugar, fast food and processed food over the holidays. It’s natural – there’s more running around and disruptions to your schedule, which prompts you to eat convenient food.
However, you’ll want to avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar, as they impact your blood sugar levels. Having highs and lows can cause you to feel anxious. Stick to whole foods when possible, and pack high-protein snacks to keep you feeling full on the go.
Connect with a Life Coach
In the moment, it’s easy to think that these habits will help you enjoy the holidays more. But they won’t. While it’s okay to indulge once in a while, you want to keep your same momentum over the holidays to protect your mental health. And if you need support along the way, know that you have a life coach in Los Angeles who can help! Book your appointment with Jack Rourke today!