12 Natural Ways To Reduce Anxiety And Symptoms Immediately After The Christmas And New Year Season
The Christmas season can be a time of joy, family and friends, merry-making, and indulging in the pleasures of food and drink. For anxious personalities, however, it can also be a time of an increase in anxiousness and symptoms, especially immediately after the Christmas and New Year season.
If you find yourself feeling more anxious and symptomatic at this time of year, here are 12 Natural Ways To Reduce Anxiety And Symptoms:
1. Reduce your body’s stress
Behaving apprehensively causes anxiety. Being anxious activates the body’s stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it—which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response or emergency response. Stress responses stress the body because stress hormones are stimulants.
When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly. When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, they can cause the body to become overly stressed, which we call stress-response hyperstimulation. A body that becomes hyperstimulated can exhibit symptoms of stress.
Therefore, anxiety symptoms are symptoms of stress. We call them anxiety symptoms because overly apprehensive behavior is the main source of the stress that causes the body to become overly stressed (hyperstimulated) and symptomatic.
You can read more about anxiety, anxiety symptoms, the stress response, and stress-response hyperstimulation by clicking on their respective links.
Anxious personalities experience anxiety symptoms because their overly apprehensive behavior overly stresses the body. When the body becomes overly stressed (hyperstimulated) and symptomatic, any additional stress can cause an increase in not only symptoms but also in apprehensive behavior since stress stimulates the areas of the brain responsible for fear detection and reaction. Recovery Support members can read more about this in the sections, “Stress’s Role In Worry, Inward Focused Thinking, OCD,” “Hyperstimulation and its Effects,” and “The Rational Brain And The Emotional Brain” in Chapter 14.
The Christmas season is often a busy time filled with rushing around, travel, interactions with family and friends, indulging in the pleasures of life, late nights and a reduction in sleep, and little time to rest, to name a few. All of which can stress the body. The busier the holiday season, the more stressed the body can become.
As stress builds throughout the holiday season, it can leave the body overly stressed and symptomatic after the festivities have ended. This is why many people see an increase in anxiety and symptoms during the days and weeks immediately following the Christmas and New Year season. While seeking help for problematic anxiety is the most effective way to overcome issues with anxiety and its symptoms, there are many natural ways to get your body headed in the right direction. The most important is reducing your body’s stress.
As the body's overall stress level diminishes, you should see a noticeable decline in anxiousness and symptoms. The more diligent you are at reducing your body’s overall level of stress, the faster your body can recover. There are many natural ways to reduce the body's stress. Recovery Support members can read the section, "Physiological Recovery Tips: 45 tips that can help accelerate your recovery" in chapter 14.
Reducing your body’s stress is the number one strategy for reducing and eliminating anxiousness and anxiety symptoms that are caused by the stress associated with the Christmas and New Year holiday season.
2. Increase rest
The busyness associated with the Christmas and New Year holiday season can reduce the amount of time we normally rest. A reduction in rest can cause an increase in the body's stress. To remedy this, you want to increase your rest immediately following the Christmas and New Year holiday season. This increase in rest will give your body the opportunity to recover from its overly stressed state.
The more rest you give your body, the faster it can recover from the adverse effects of stress. As your body recovers, you’ll feel better…in time.
3. Increase sleep hours
Similar to above, increasing your sleep hours will also help your body recover from the adverse effects of stress. As your rest and sleep hours increase, your body has more opportunity to recover.
Don't be surprised, however, if you feel worse before you feel better. The body requires time to recover from the adverse effects of stress. During this recovery time, it's common to feel worse as your body adjusts away from a higher than normal level of stress. But as you persist in reducing your body’s stress, increasing rest, and increasing sleep hours, you should eventually see a change for the better as your body recovers from hyperstimulation.
4. Daily deep relaxation
Practising a daily deep relaxation technique can accelerate recovery from hyperstimulation. Those who practice a deep relaxation technique of 20 to 25 minutes twice per day see a marked increase in recovery time over those who don't.
Any form of deep relaxation, such as meditation, can benefit the body, and especially during and immediately after a stressful period. Research has not only found that regular deep relaxation benefits the body overall but it has also found that those who practice a regular deep relaxation technique experience a beneficial change in brain function, which can assist in reducing apprehensive behaviour overall.
This is why daily deep relaxation can be viewed as a "silver bullet" remedy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms. Recovery Support members can read more about the benefits of regular deep relaxation in the "Deep Relaxation" section in Chapter 4.
5. Contain your anxious thinking knowing that it is caused by elevated stress
Research has shown that stress can cause an increase in anxious behaviour. As stress elevates, it's common to experience an increase in anxiousness. Therefore, to reduce this increased anxiousness, you want to reduce the body's stress so that stress’s adverse effects on anxious behaviour diminish. As the body's overall level of stress diminishes, you should see a reduction in anxiousness.
During your recovery time, you want to:
- Recognize that an increase in anxiousness can be a direct result of an increase in stress.
- Recognize that this increase in anxiousness isn’t something to be concerned about but should be expected immediately after a stressful period.
- Recognize that this increase in anxiousness can continue as the body recovers from elevated stress and until the body’s overall level of stress has been sufficiently reduced.
- Contain your anxiousness in the meantime.
- Recognize things will settle down as the body recovers from hyperstimulation.
- It's just a matter of time until you will feel better.
The better you are at containing, the faster the recovery from hyperstimulation. Recovery Support members can read more about “Containment” in Chapter 6.
6. Slow down your pace
As the Christmas season approaches, many people are busy rushing around in preparation. During the Christmas season, it's also common to rush around as we visit family and loved ones and complete all of the responsibilities associated with a busy Christmas season.
This busyness causes an increase in stress hormone production. Since stress hormones are stimulants, elevated stress stimulates the body. As the body becomes stimulated, it can cause us to rush around even more. This elevating stimulation often causes an increase in the pace with which we go about our activities.
Once the Christmas season is over, it's common to continue on with our elevated pace. To maintain this pace, the body produces stress hormones. Unfortunately, this creates a vicious cycle of elevated pace creating stress hormones, and stress hormones driving our elevated pace. Consequently, it's common for anxious personalities to keep their bodies overly stressed and symptomatic simply by maintaining an elevated pace to their lifestyle.
To counteract this, we want to deliberately slow our pace down so that the body reduces its production of stress hormones. We can slow down our pace by deliberately walking slower, talking slower, doing fewer things, and adopting an overall slower approach to life. As we slow down the pace to our lifestyle, the body reduces its production of stress hormones, which gives the body an opportunity to recover from elevated stress.
The slower you make your lifestyle, the more opportunity the body has to recover from the adverse effects of elevated stress.
7. Avoid foods high in sugar
The Christmas and New Year holiday season is often filled with holiday treats, such as foods and drink that are high in sugar content. High sugar foods stress the body. The more you indulge in holiday sweets, the more of a stress impact the body experiences.
After the holiday season is over, you want to avoid foods that are high in sugar content. This will give your body the opportunity to recover from the stress of indulging in foods that are high in sugar content. Recovery support members can read more about the adverse effects of high sugar foods in the "Nutrition - Blood sugar" section in Chapter 4.
8. Avoid alcohol
The Christmas and New Year holiday season is often filled with Christmas cheer in the form of alcoholic beverages. Consuming alcohol also stresses the body, and for many reasons. Once the holiday season is over, you want to avoid alcohol to give your body an opportunity to recover from the adverse effects of holiday stress, including the stress caused by the consumption of alcohol.
While many people continue to consume alcohol after the holiday season - because of wanting to continue with the fun of the holiday season - doing so can keep the body stressed and symptomatic. If you want to reduce anxiousness and symptoms after the Christmas and New Year holiday season, it’s best to avoid alcohol until your body has completely recovered from holiday stress. Recovery Support members can read more about the triple whammy effect of alcohol consumption in the "Nutrition - Alcohol" section in Chapter 4.
9. Resist the urge to rush and keep busy
As we mentioned in the Slow Down Your Pace tip, being busy can gear the body up. In addition to deliberately slowing down the pace of your lifestyle, you also want to resist the urge to keep busy. This urge is often fueled by the stimulating effects of elevated stress. If you indulge this urge and continue to rush around and keep busy, you will continue to fuel that busyness with stress hormones, which can keep the body stressed and symptomatic.
To recover from elevated stress (hyperstimulation), you want to resist the urge to rush around and keep busy. Again, as you work to slow down your pace, the body responds by producing less stress hormones. In time, your body will return to a normal level of stimulation and pace. But to get it there, you need to deliberately resist the urge to keep rushing around and being busy.
10. Regular light to moderate exercise
Regular light to moderate exercise is another “silver bullet” strategy for recovery from hyperstimulation. Regular light to moderate exercise can help burn off the body’s excess stress hormones and elevated level of stimulation, help you to feel calmer overall, and help return sleep to a normal pattern. All of which can help an overly stressed body gear down over time.
Since rigorous workouts stress the body, you want to avoid strenuous workouts while recovering from hyperstimulation. But regular light to moderate exercise can be beneficial in the recovery process.
11. Increase your hobby time
Engaging in a relaxing hobby has many benefits, including reducing stress. During your recovery time, make more time for your relaxing hobbies. Your physical and mental health will love you for it.
12. Be patient as your body slowly recovers
Unfortunately, it takes time to eliminate the adverse effects of stress, and much more time than most people think. As you are working at your recovery from hyperstimulation, you want to be patient as your body recovers.
Even though you may be faithfully working at reducing your body's stress, the body can only recover as fast as it is able. Because stress affects the body's nervous system, which is primarily made up of neurons - cells that have an electrochemical property – these cells take longer to recover than normal body cells. Therefore, you can’t rush recovery. Recovering from elevated stress and its adverse effects will take as long as it takes. You have to be good with that.
Since impatience and frustration stress the body, these types of behaviors can slow down, stall, and even reverse recovery. Remaining patient as your body recovers can eliminate these common behavioral barriers to recovery.
With regard to the length of time it can take to recover from elevated stress, don’t be surprised if it takes several weeks of applying these strategies to notice a difference. And then, even more time before you feel like your old self again. The longer the period of elevated stress, the longer it takes for the body to recover. This is why practice and patience are required.
Stress reduction, rest, and time will help undo the adverse effects of holiday stress. Faithfully applying the above 12 strategies can reduce and eliminate holiday-caused stimulation and symptoms…in time.
Again, for 33 more way to help recover from episodes of elevated stress, including the stress associated with the Christmas and New Year holiday season, Recovery Support members can read the section “Physiological Recovery Tips: 45 tips that can help accelerate your recovery” in chapter 14.
We wish you a happy 2018 and a successful recovery!
The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder coach, counselor, or therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.
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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated September 3, 2018.