First, your heart rate and blood pressure go up a notch (or two) spurting out chemicals to amp your fight or flight response just in case things get out of hand; then, having this happen on a daily basis may lead to feelings of anxiety or depression and the next thing you know, you’re snapping at the Starbucks barista for no apparent reason. But, why do you need to chill out right now more than ever? “The holidays bring up additional stressors that may be don’t exist in our day-to-day lives,” says Novick. That means extra anxiety on top of your already-stressful life, which could cause a full-blown meltdown. Here’s how to nip those holiday WTH moments in the bud.
Holiday Stress: Packed Planes, Trains, And Automobiles (Plus Malls, Traffic, And Lines Out The Wazoo)
Think WWGD (what would grandma do?) As in: Leave more time than you think you could possibly need — for everything. It’s that simple. Because it’s the possibility of missing your flight or showing up to that ugly sweater shindig more than fashionably late that skyrockets stress — not the extra traveling time itself. “I tell my patients that utilizing good time management is the best gift they can give themselves,” says Novick. “If you leave yourself plenty of time to go anywhere or do anything — and remember that you aren’t the only one who has to get someplace, you’ll have a positive attitude and get everything done.” And then, if you’re late anyway? So, what. “You have to put in perspective — that it will work out and you’ll get there when you get there — there’s a start point and an end point, and as much as possible, be in the moment,” he says.
Holiday Stress: There's No Place Like Home (Well, Maybe...)
Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, the aroma of fresh Folgers is wafting through the house, and everything is hunky-dory, right? Possibly. “For some people, going home elicits great feelings and memories but for others, going back to their childhood home and seeing a lot of family they don’t always see can be stressful,” says Novick, who notes that while visits to his office plummet as to-do lists increase, instances of emergency dial-in therapy sessions go way up. “During the holidays my therapy practice tends to be slow but then people start running around, or something painful or upsetting gets brought up, and they need time with me more than ever,” he says. Novick also says that a common way to self-medicate, when it comes to stress, is with booze. And, while it can calm you down a bit in the short term, excessive drinking can make you feel a whole lot worse over time. “If the drinking is a way to mask the stress you are feeling, then it will only end up exacerbating unhealthy stress behaviors and the situation itself,” he says.
Photo: Courtesy of J.Crew
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