If you or someone you love is battling addiction or suffers from social anxiety, it can be especially challenging to manage these mental health issues around the holidays. Here are expert tips from Carrie Carlton LCSW of beachway.com, a top rehab and therapy center in Boynton Beach, Florida.
- “Avoid going holiday shopping alone," Carlton advises. "Bring a friend with you and ask them to keep your spending in check. This is not a sign of weakness, it simply means that you know yourself well enough to know what you need this holiday.”
- Practice a 24-hour rule: No purchase can be made inside of a 24-hour “thinking” period.
- Give your credit cards to a trusted friend, keeping only a debit card for daily necessities.
- Make a plan to volunteer during the holidays or stay home and bake cookies for your neighbors.
- Seek help from a therapist or a support group like Shopaholics Anonymous, Overspenders Anonymous or Debtors Anonymous.
- Try calm breathing, which helps you calm down quickly. Carlton says, “We tend to breathe faster when we are anxious. This can make us feel dizzy and lightheaded, which can make us even more anxious.
“Calm breathing involves taking slow, regular breaths through your nose. It is important to realize that the goal of calm breathing is to make it a little easier to “ride out” the feelings in social situations, not eliminate anxiety completely because anxiety is not dangerous and it’s normal to feel anxious at times.”
- Relax your body. Another helpful strategy involves learning to relax your body. This involves tensing various muscles then relaxing them. This strategy can help lower overall tension and stress levels, which can contribute to anxiety problems.
- Practice realistic thinking. People with social anxiety tend to have negative thoughts about themselves and about what could happen in social situations. “If you believe that social situations are threatening or dangerous, then you are more likely to feel anxious,” Carlton says. “However, it is important to realize that your anxious thoughts are guesses about what will happen, not actual facts.”