Expert Advisory: UAlbany's Anxiety Disorders Research Program Offers Tips to Curb Holiday Stress
Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150
ALBANY, N.Y. (December 13, 2006) -- The shopping, parties, decorating and general bustle of the holidays produces, for many, more stress than pleasure. John P. Forsyth, director of the University at Albany's Anxiety Disorders Research Program, offers the following simple tips and reminders for dealing with holiday season stress:
"Stress, anxiety, loneliness, and
pain are normal facets of life, but
they need not ruin lives or dampen
the holiday season," said Forsyth.
"The trick is to learn how to bring
acceptance and compassion to
yourself, your stress, your worries,
and your anxieties, and to move
forward with them and do what you
truly care about."
- You can choose to say "no" — To
parties, get-togethers, shopping
excursions, and other holiday
activities. Do not over-schedule
yourself. Make choices that are your
own and that are consistent with
- Recognize what you have control
over. — You can control
choices, your actions, decisions,
plans, etc. You have
control over thoughts, feelings, and
memories that may show up from time
to time, and no control over the
thoughts, feelings, choices, and
actions of other people around you.
- Make time for YOU. — Be mindful
of, and increase, your calming,
relaxing moments—breathe deeply,
drink your favorite tea, take a nap.
When you feel pulled out of your
life, pause and ask yourself this:
What I am doing with my precious
time and energy? And, is this what I
want to be about, right now? If not,
it's time to do something that is
- End the tug of war with anxiety
and stress. — Drop the rope, and
become an observer. Practice living
in the present moment. Notice when
your mind is serving you well and
when it is not. Your stress and old
history need not be a barrier
between you and the life you want to
- Connect with your values — What
do you want your life to stand for?
What do you value in your life? Have
the holidays become too commercial
for you? Are you spending time with
your friends, family and loved ones
regularly? Look around at what you
spend your time doing and commit to
moving your life forward.
- Watch what you are doing with
your hands, feet, and mouth. — These
are your actions that define what
you are and, in a sense, what you
care about. Are you tapping your
foot impatiently? Eating too many
holiday cookies? Clue in to your
body language and what it may be
telling you about how you think and
- Focus on the process, not just
the outcome. Abandon your
commitment to perfection—the party
you're having, the gift you're
giving, the gift you received, the
outfit you're wearing, etc. Hold
these lightly, and focus on the
moment because that is what counts.
The outcomes will take care of
- Practice random acts of kindness. — This can be for yourself and others. Reach out to others who are in need. Do something nice for yourself, too. Focus on the process. Do things because YOU, and only you, can do them.
* Remember, lives are created one small step at a time. They are created by what you do, not by what you think or feel about what you do. You can't think your way into your life. You can't feel your way into your life. Ultimately, you need to get moving and spend time doing things that are important to you. This is what others will see about you too.
John Forsyth is available for interviews and commentary. Contact (518) 956-8150.