Anxiety, Stress and the Holidays-Top Ten Tips for Coping Ease

While a certain amount of stress this time of year is unavoidable, such as traffic jams, long checkout lines, inclement winter weather, crabby and short tempered people, other stressors associated with the holidays can be minimized, if not avoided altogether to avoid chronic stress, anxiety and anxiety attacks. 

Stress and anxiety can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Many factors, including unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, excessive commitments and negative thinking can cause stress and anxiety at holiday time.  I cannot begin to tell you the stories my clients have that bring them to a place of inability to cope; childhood abuse, dominant and oppressive people in their life, mentally and emotionally abusive relationships due to addictions, narcistic bosses or partners, death of loved ones, divorce, and so much more.  Personally I can relate to many of them, having learned how to cope with my own huge struggles.  Know that I educate from experience. Couple that trauma with the stress, financial hardships and sadness of the holidays and you’ve got a time bomb ready to explode.  Being realistic, practicing stress reduction tools, shaping your thoughts in productive ways, and seeking support when life becomes unmanageable can help you from sliding down the slippery slope of mounting stress and anxiety.

Be proactive in managing holiday stress with these Top Ten Tips for Coping with Stress and Anxiety.

The biggest causes of anxiety and 10 top tips to cope…

1. Insanely Busy Schedules

Take care of the kids, keep the house clean, go to work, shop for Christmas gifts, write out the holiday cards, wrap presents, decorate the house, prepare meals, attend parties, the list seems endless.  How can you manage it all?  One way I learned is to “say no” to what does not have to be done.  I realized one year after I got divorced and just felt beaten down by life’s struggles, that my world didn’t fall apart after I didn’t mail out Christmas cards, didn’t shop for all the people I felt I was supposed to buy a gift for, and didn’t search for hours to find the special dish to prepare for the holiday gathering.  Sure I notice who sent me Christmas cards because I sent them one, because I didn’t get one that year.  

Actually, it was a breath of fresh air to clean up my list when I was ready to mail them again.  My mailing list was much smaller 3 years later.  I realized that each year I had added something MORE to my list of things to do and it finally became unmanageable.  I was to blame, no one else.  I needed to decide what I wanted to keep doing and what I really didn’t find joy in doing.  Joy was my measuring stick.  Learn to say “no” and let go.  Become the creator of your joy filled schedule and producer of your happiness. 

2. Uncontrolled Thoughts 

Stress and anxiety changes the way you think, and unfortunately that often means that your own thoughts are your worst enemy. Many people don’t realize that stress and anxiety attacks are often caused by allowing you to sit and think, because the mind eventually starts thinking about negative things, over and over again.  It becomes a “stinkin thinkin” trap. 

Staying active stimulates your mind by giving it a positive action to focus on.  By doing something productive provides you with a mental break that can reduce future anxiety symptoms. When you move, use both legs and hands you are also utilizing both hemispheres of your brain, balancing the creative with the logical, which reduces depression, increases mental acuity, and is mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. 

Keep in mind that over time your thought patterns are automatized.  You think without realizing clearly what you’re thinking. Most of my clients are caught in thinking traps without realizing it.  Until I point them out, they are totally unaware of how badly toxic their thought patterns really are.  So often they also believe the unhealthy lies they tell their self.  Sometimes it is wise to get outside support to help you rewire your brain.  Hypnosis is a great tool for changing beliefs that are created on a deep level and have harmful roots created in the past.  Our Rapid Results Coaching Program includes hypnosis, which is an incredibly key component of making positive changes that last.

3. Giving up 

There are numerous reasons to avoid moping. Most importantly, know that when you allow worry, doubt, fears or a hopeless mindset to rule your thoughts it essentially lets your anxiety win. This thinking pattern becomes habitual and controls the way that you react in the future. If you often keep to yourself and withdrawal when you have anxiety, then every time you have significant anxiety it gets worse, eventually leading to panic attacks.  You then feel unsafe to venture outside of your cave. Your body’s reaction causes you to feel hopeless and unable to cope, prompting you to give up and just mope or complain again. It becomes your coping mechanism, and makes it harder to stop moping and hiding from “life” in the future. 

Learning tools like stress management, breathing healthy, meditation, self-hypnosis, yoga, will help lift your spirit up.  You will find that when you relax, oxygenate your body, and stimulate uplifting visualizations, your thoughts keep getting better and better.  Hope filled ideals come to mind and motivation begins to set in to start living an active life again. 

Instead of thinking about giving up, take your self-consuming thoughts in another direction.  Think about giving.  This time of year there are numerous needs.  Pick one.  Ask yourself, “How can I help someone else?”  

Twin Cities Charities Make Giving a Cinch-Check em out!

4. Inactivity

 Easily the biggest problem that leads to anxiety is inactivity. 

Moving; exercise and staying physically active are extremely important for not only physical health, but mental health as well. Movement and exercise improve hormone function and neurotransmitter production.  When feeling anxious or stressed, movement can release the body of excess nervous energy that would otherwise cause the mind to ruminate on negative doom and gloom thoughts, and the body to become tenser. Moving and staying active in general is crucial to thinking more clearly and anxiety management.  Inactivity and moping makes feeling good much more difficult. 

5. No Social Interaction 

Isolation creates depression.  Ruminating on the same thoughts day in and day out causes a stale life.  The mind can fill up with lies and without interaction; nothing new is experienced, learned or implemented.  

Those suffering from any type of holiday anxiety, depression, or stress can benefit from increased social support during this time of year. Anxiety is fueled by avoidance, and the more you practice dealing with social situations, the easier it will become. Being around people that you like and make you happy is an important tool for combating anxiety. Obviously those with social anxiety disorder will need support to learn how to feel comfortable and confident interacting with others. Yet generally when you spend time with people and talk to others, you’re more likely to find life more enjoyable.  Positive people who appreciate you are a mirror and reflect back to you their appreciation of having you around.  The more you enjoy life, more you realize and appreciate who you are, the less you experience anxiety. 

As you move through the holiday season, I encourage you to focus more on sharing that smile with a stranger, taking time to chat with the elderly in a nursing home, say something nice to someone who is having a bad day.  This is the season of love and giving, forgiving and supporting.  Certainly I have found that the best way to reduce my stress is to do something nice for someone else.  .

6. Stuck in a Rut 

Anxiety itself makes you focus too much on the past and problems in the present. Doing the same thing day in and day out is not healthy.  Routines enable you to do tasks without thinking about them and having a healthy routine like waking up and praying, or writing in a gratitude journal before going to bed are beneficial.  However sitting around all day, watching TV after work and having a cocktail every night is not.  Create new happy memories.  One of the strategies to help reduce anxiety is goal setting-planning something that you’re looking forward to in the future. Staying active with enjoyable activities provides self-satisfaction.  Each new activity experienced and enjoyed builds confidence when a goal is achieved or a project completed. 

7.  Winter Blues

Certain people may feel more moody, stressed or anxious around the winter holidays due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as seasonal depression.

An important step in preventing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder is regular exposure to light that is bright, particularly fluorescent lights, taking increased dosage of vitamin D, and listening to sound that shapes brainwaves to produce more “feel good” chemicals such as is found in our “SADness Be Gone” MP3 audio download.  All these choices significantly improve mood, anxious feelings, and depression in people with SAD during the fall and winter.

AUDIO: S.A.D.Ness Be Gone

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8.  Unhealthy Lifestyle

Stress and tension headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and insomnia are some of the possible consequences of poorly managed holiday stress.  

Have healthy food on hand for snacking when emotional stress is ignited.  Make sure you get to sleep early. Rest is essential to thinking clearly, making wise decisions, being more tolerant, and productivity is best when well rested.

9.  No Boundaries

People will have numerous demands on your time if you allow it.  Family members want you to buy specific presents, they make you feel guilty if you cannot make it to their house on time or if you don’t have the money to pitch in toward presents given in gift exchanges.  Your spouse wants a clean house, and the piles from unfinished projects are growing.  

Communicating your boundaries is essential to good health, and being the creator of your joy filled life.  Happiness is a mental decision.  If you’re unhappy and feeling stressed out, make sure you are clear about what really matters to you.  People pleasing is never a way to please yourself.  You will often find that some people are seldom happy and you are not responsible for their happiness.  You are not responsible for fixing other people’s problems.  

10. Recurring Problems    

Stress can be a reaction to a short-term situation, such as being stuck in traffic. Or it can last a long time if you’re dealing with financial problems, relationship difficulties, a divorce, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, indecision, or other serious situations. Stress becomes dangerous when it interferes with your ability to live a normal life over an extended period. You may feel tired, unable to concentrate or irritable. Stress can also damage your physical health. This can lead to many more serious issues such as anxiety, IBS, OCD, depression, insomnia.  Before you know it you’re going to the doctor looking for the magic pill that will fix everything and you soon realize the problems never went away with the pill.  Often more problems are created.  

When stress gets out of hand, this simply means that you have not learned how to cope.  Coping tools are an essential asset for people who want to live extraordinary lives.  Commit today to learn how to cope with life’s stressors in a healthy way.  You might feel like your life isn’t getting better fast enough, like popping a pill, however when you’re willing to work our program full of natural solutions, you’ll gain significant life-changing benefits that far outweigh the effort!!! 

Stop the Insanity

Check out Rapid Results Coaching Program-A Healthy, Effective, Life-Changing Solution 

The Rapid Results Coaching Program can be beneficial for helping you feel good about yourself when socializing, feel confident and in control around chaotic situations and controlling people, manage your life better, and think in a more productive and life enriching way.  Understanding how to feel less stressed and at peace in somewhat uncomfortable situations, enables you to enjoy life much more. 


Lori Bestler is a nationally recognized Mind EmPowerment Coach, Award Winning Motivational Speaker, and founder and owner of the MindScapes Unlimited Mind Coaching Center.

Lori has helped to transform thousands of men and women’s lives through her Strategic Mind System of Success, Rapid Results Coaching Program and Mind Power Audios, and Speaking engagements. She specializes in working with high level entrepreneurs and independent business professionals with busy minds as well as empathic individuals. Lori helps clients overcome barriers in thought patterns, limiting beliefs and behavior which can lead to issues such as stress, anxiety, negative thinking, and weight problems, lack of focus and follow-through, and procrastination.  Clients experience results in areas such as financial success, improved relationships, confidence, high self-esteem, stress reduction, behavior change, better health, and greater fulfillment in life.  Ms. Bestler runs a private coaching and hypnotherapy practice in Lino Lakes MN, assisting clients in the Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding Twin Cities Metropolitan Areas, as well as all over the U.S.