Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Anxiety

With the holidays upon us, many of us will feel anxiety's pull more acutely than at other times of the year. Part of the reason for this phenomenon, I suppose, is due to just how different the holidays are than the rest of the year. This difference can be exciting. We eat differently, shop differently, visit different places, see different people. But all this difference can also leave us vulnerable to anxiety's arsenal of tricks. I've often observed with clients how a strong offense is the best defense against difficult transitions. One way to defend against anxiety is to maintain the regimen that keeps one feeling well. What I've noticed in folks affected by anxiety is this recurring theme of needing to strike a balance between personal and public time. This balance may look very different on an individual basis, but the need for balance is universal. Being taken out of our usual work/family/private life routine can be exciting, but aiming for a similar balance during the uniqueness of the holidays may be the strongest innoculation against anxiety.

Some questions to ask yourself may include: When I'm feeling at my best, what does the balance between alone and social time look like? During the holidays, do I expect that balance to shift? If the holidays tend to be a time of greater sociability for me, where are my opportunities for alone time? Are there some social engagements I could cut out if I start to feel too out of balance? If the holidays tend to be a time of greater solitude, where are my opportunities for greater sociability? How might I create opportunities for more public time if I begin to feel too out of balance? Is there someone who could check in with me about how I'm doing in my aim to balance personal and social time?

And with that, I wish you all happy and balanced holidays.

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