Tips for reducing holiday anxiety

Holiday Anxiety Tips

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy. Yet, much of what contributes to the joy of the season requires careful consideration and planning.  Many people are  stretched thin with additional responsibilities during the holidays. This can feel like a burden and create feelings of anxiety and stress. These feelings can lead to a sense of guilt that you are not able to fully appreciate all the joy that the holiday season brings. The stress, anxiety and guilt can become overwhelming. This can impact our ability to enjoy the holiday and interfere with our overall day to day functioning.  You can stop this cycle and redefine what holiday joy means in your life, for your own family. 

What’s the good news?

The good news is that you are the author of your story.  The holidays can be whatever you want them to be and whatever you have room for in your life. The secret is simple.  Give yourself permission to let go external pressures that have been weighing on you.  Give yourself the time and space to consider what is important to you.  Think about what you want your holiday story to be.  Allow yourself to say no to things that don’t fit in your life right now.  Be okay with less, if less is what is right for you this holiday season.  

christmas tree

5 helpful hints for reflecting on your own personal joy this holiday season: 


  • Remember that good enough is good enough: You don’t have to find the perfect gift or run yourself ragged for the one thing that everyone wants but it’s sold out. Remember that at the end of the day, children very often have trouble recalling gifts but always remember special moments.  
  • Manage your own expectations: Reflect on the things that are most important to you this holiday season and be sure that your behavior matches those beliefs. Very often we can get caught up doing things out of habit or guilt when it isn’t truly what is important to us. 
  • Comparison is the thief of joy: Remember that when someone shares a story about their holiday that feels perfect we can acknowledge it and feel happy for them but not feel compelled to do the same thing. 
  • Prioritize taking care of yourself: Do your best to maintain your schedule. Continue to practice any healthy living habits that alleviate your stress during non-holiday times (working out, eating healthy, reading, time with family/friends). 
  • Make lists, prioritize, delegate &  ask for help: Much like we do in day to day life it is important for us to maintain the strategies that keep us grounded and help us achieve our goals.  


Finding Christmas Joy

Remember that joy can be found in a lot of places and not just wrapped up in boxes. Sometimes joy is found in extra time together, shared meals and experiences. Anxiety and stress can make it difficult to find joy but not impossible.  Managing your anxiety through the helpful tips above will allow you to feel more in control and thus be more available to access the JOY in your life! Therapy can help! We are here for you! 


3 Ways To Reflect On The Past Year With Purpose

Bubble photo to reflect on the year. Family Counseling in Fuquay Varina, NC 27526 is available to Foundations Family Therapy in Raleigh, NC 27606. You can also get online therapy in North Carolina!

As we are nearing the end of 2018, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past year. Self-reflection can be a helpful tool in assessing what went well and what to change in the new year. Unfortunately, it can turn into negative self-talk about what we ‘should have’ or ‘could have’ done which hinders our overall growth.

Let’s look at how to reflect with purpose instead of pessimism.

Timeline life events

When you think about 2018, what stands out as significant life events during the year? If it’s helpful, write down each month and a couple key events from each month. Did you change jobs, get married, have a child, or become a grandparent? Document challenging life events too like losing a loved one, divorce, or having to relocate when you didn’t want to. Also, write down the smaller but still meaningful events like trying that painting class you always thought about or learning how to ride a motorcycle. It’s helpful to visualize these linear events to see the progression of the ups and downs in our life. Notice patterns over the year such as multiple negative events impacting your mood or changing jobs really increased your motivation to try a new hobby. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine that we forget to look at the big picture and how it is all connected.

Assess your values

Think about what is important to you and the amount of time that you spent doing that in 2018. Sometimes we have great intentions but then there is a disconnect which causes sadness or confusion. Write down a simple list of values such as: love, wealth, family, success, knowledge, friends, free time, freedom, fun, nature, honesty, independence, spirituality, peace, and achievement. Then, rank them from 1 to 15 with 1 being the most important item. Does your 2018 life reflect those values in that order? Sometimes, when I do this activity in sessions, people find that they say that family is #1 but they are rarely home, or they rank spirituality in their top 3 but they struggle to spend time in scripture. For 2019, think about how can your time align with what you value.

Reflect with gratefulness

I know someone who, throughout the year, writes down her thoughts on small pieces of paper and puts them in a jar. She writes down happy things, sad things, big life events or small events. On New Years Day, she reads her jar and reminisces over the past year. This is such a simple but intentional way to reflect with purpose. Make this a goal for the new year to start in January so that next year, you have these moments of time to reflect on from the past year with a grateful heart.

I hope this was helpful in learning to reflect with purpose. Are you thinking about making changes in the new year but aren’t sure what steps to take? Connect with one of us at FFT to help! We have convenient offices in Raleigh and Fuquay-Varina.

Renee Pugh, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

How To Let Go of Perfectionism

Feeling a little pressure to be perfect this holiday season?

Thinking about the Pinterest-perfect tree…..

Stressed about making holiday cookies that look like the ones on the front page of Cooking Magazine?

Losing sleep at night worrying about how you’ll finish your holiday shopping?

It’s time to let it go.

The holidays should be a time of joy, love, and gathering. If you change your mindset now, you’ll be able to build a better 2019! It’s perfectly natural to feel a little stress during the holidays- we all do to some extent! After all, our regular routines are disrupted, a lot of people are spending more, and maybe you’ve had one (or two) extra cookies. Here are a few great tips that will help you embrace the holiday season and let go of perfectionism and the stress that comes with it.

Find Your Happiness

Happiness is different for everyone! Some people like to really deck the halls and others are fine without even hanging a wreath. Do what makes you happy. There is actual science behind finding happiness and it has a lot to do with practicing gratuity. This holiday season, take a look around and find all the beauty in your life.

Stop The Comparison Game

In the age of social media, this is especially important! As you search for your own happiness, stop comparing yourself to others. Worry about you. You are good enough. Be Honest Only take on what you can handle. It’s OK to just say no. Don’t learn overwhelm lead to burnout. It can take a toll on your physical and mental health.

Set Boundaries

This time of year can bring up family stress when seeing some relatives and friends. Don’t feed into toxic relationships. If you have to opt out of an event because you are uncomfortable or overly stressed, communicate your feelings. Above all make it a priority to focus on your generosity and loving kindness. Reflect upon what you have instead of what you desire.

As therapists, we understand that some issues aren’t easily resolved. We’re here to walk with you. We can help families identify patterns that aren’t working and develop new ones that work better.

We’ll help you reconnect and feel supported so you can enjoy life and then holidays with the ones who matter most!