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UAlbany's Anxiety Disorders Research Program Offers Tips to Curb Holiday Stress

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 9, 2005) -- The scheduling, shopping, decorating and bustle of the holidays produces, for many, more stress than pleasure and can often become a barrier to valued activities. Stress, anxiety, loneliness, and pain are normal facets of life, but they need not ruin lives or dampen the holiday season. The trick is to learn how to bring acceptance and compassion to yourself, your stress, your worries, and your anxieties, and to move forward and do what you truly care about.

John P. Forsyth, director of the University at Albany's Anxiety Disorders Research Program, offers the following simple tips and reminders for dealing with the stress of the holiday season:

  • 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 your values.

  • Recognize what you have control over. -- You can control your choices, your actions, decisions, plans, etc. You have very little control over situations 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, think pleasant thoughts, take a nap.

  • End the tug of war with anxiety and stress. -- Drop the rope, and become an observer. Practice living in the present moment.

  • 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 feel.

  • 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.

  • 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.

John Forsyth is available for interviews and commentary. Contact (518) 437-4980.


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