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7860 Mission Center Ct, Suite 209
San Diego, CA, 92108

858.354.4077

At The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, our psychologists have years of experience. Unlike many other providers, our clinicians truly specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and related problems. Our mission is to apply only the most effective short-term psychological treatments supported by extensive scientific research. We are located in Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad, and Mission Valley.

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Read our award-winning blogs for useful information and tips about anxiety, stress, and related disorders.

 

Filtering by Tag: Hanukkah stress

En(Joy)ing the Holidays

Jill Stoddard

 

Written by Lauren Helm, M.A.

When the holidays are here, there can be great potential for joy, but also, great potential for stress. The holidays may entail numerous stressors, including a significant change in routine, exposure to large crowds of people while shopping, financial strain, feeling under pressure from expectations of others or yourself, and relationship stress or conflict. However, there are many ways that we can take care of ourselves in order to connect with the potential for rich, fulfilling experiences with loved ones while we celebrate during the holidays.

 

  • Clarify what you value
    • Instead of going through the motions while participating in holiday celebrations, take some time to reflect upon what it is that you find most meaningful about these times. What is truly most important to you? What experience would you like to actively participate in creating? If you can allow your values to guide your actions during holiday activities, you may find that the quality of your experiences deepen.
  • Practice emotional awareness
    • It’s not always easy, but checking in for a moment and tuning into your emotions can help to give you additional information about how you are responding to potential holiday stressors. Take a slow, deep breath and pay attention, nonjudgmentally, to your feelings as they arise. If you allow them to come and go without reflexively reacting, you can consciously decide to act in the most effective manner in a given situation. Mindfulness can be particularly helpful for practicing a healthy way of relating to your emotions. Free mindfulness meditations and exercises can be found here
  • Adopt a flexible attitude
    • Keep in mind that change is constant. Change can be very stressful, but new experiences can also provide excitement and enrichment to your life. Change offers many opportunities for growth – our response to change may determine whether we get “stuck” in fighting with the change of routine that occurs during the holidays, or whether we can be flexible and allow change without resistance – we may even find that we enjoy the ride!
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced routine
    • Even though your schedule may be different than usual, commit to creating balance in whatever ways are possible and supportive for you during this time. That might mean making regular sleep a priority, making healthy food choices, and continuing to engage in exercise. Avoid overscheduling yourself during this time, and ask for help from others if needed.
  • Practice compassion for others and self-compassion
    • Compassion for others and self-compassion can enhance any experience that we have, and help us to let go of unhelpful expectations of ourselves or others. We are all human and imperfect. Choosing to practice compassion towards family and friends may reduce tension and stress during the holidays. Your relationship with yourself also will greatly affect your experience of the moment. Think of practicing compassion towards yourself as a great holiday gift that you can give yourself, over and over again. Learn more about self-compassion here.
  • Remember gratitude
    • Gratitude is one of the biggest predictors of happiness. It may be easy to get swept away in our “wants” and feeling that we are lacking something. Gratitude can help us shift out of a mindset of “incompleteness” into a recognition that there are likely multiple experiences, things, or relationships that we can be grateful for. Bringing attention to what you are grateful for allows you to practice soaking in pleasant experiences, instead of stewing mostly on what you don’t like or have. Learn more about the science behind gratitude here.
  • Be mindful of moments of joy and love
    • Allow yourself to fully notice and experience when joy and love naturally arise within you. Pay attention to how it feels in your body, and how it feels to share it. Allow yourself to take note of what generated the feelings of love and warmth. This may help you better tune into what is important to you, and what you might want to invest your energy in cultivating more of in your life. Read more about the science of sharing joy here.

 

 

 

 

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Find additional holiday tips here:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-and-sensibility/201411/seven-steps-enjoy-the-holidays

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/tech-support/201411/anticipating-holiday-angst-six-ways-prepare-yourself

10 Tips to Stop Sleep Anxiety: More Rest, Less Stress (Part 2 of 3)

Jill Stoddard

by Lucas Myers

With people juggling work, school, friends, families, and the 1,001 other things we've got to do everyday, Americans are not getting enough sleep. This week we continue our 3 part series 10 Tips to Stop Sleep Anxiety: More Rest, Less Stress.

4. Practice good habits

Having the same bedtime ritual night after night teaches your body when to expect sleep and eases the transition into a drowsy, bed-ready state. Bright lights, especially those from TV's computers and other electronics promote alertness, so try to avoid them before bedtime. Instead, try reading a book, taking a soothing bath or shower, listening to relaxing music and dimming the lights as you get ready for bed.

5. Eliminate distractions

The bedroom should be your sanctuary for sleep, so avoid watching TV in bed, bringing the laptop to bed, or engaging in any other activities. You want your mind to associate this setting with relaxation and rest rather than stimulating daytime activities. Consider setting limits on children or pets sleeping in your bed with you.

6. Get comfortable

Find bedding that feels comfortable to you. If you share your bed, make sure it is large enough for both of you to sleep comfortably. Most mattresses last 9-10 years; make sure to replace them when they exceed their life expectancy because a good mattress should be comfortable and supportive. Your pillow should support your head without straining your neck. Make sure your bedding is allergen free.

7. Set the mood

Dark curtains can help prevent light from inadvertently resetting your internal clock. Even the tiny light from an alarm clock can be disruptive so seek ways of limiting light pollution. Even small noises can interrupt sleep. Earplugs are helpful for some. A fan, or a free white noise app on your phone can help cover the sounds of noisy neighbors, car alarms, traffic and other disruptive nighttime noises. To keep your bedroom from becoming too hot or dry for comfort consider a fan, air conditioner, or humidifier.

REMEMBER: Having an occasional sleepless night is normal, but if you are experiencing a pattern of restless or sleepless nights, don't hesitate to seek an expert, especially if lack of sleep is beginning to interfere with your normal daytime functioning. Contact your doctor to determine whether physical causes may be contributing to sleep problems. If your physical health is sound, contact a psychologist with experience treating sleep problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based treatments are highly effective for improving sleep. If you are in the San Diego area and you would like to speak with one of our other qualified therapists, you may contact the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management at 858-354-4077 or csamsandiego@gmail.com.

Want more tips? Subscribe to the CSAM RSS feed, and follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@CSAMSanDiego) so you don't miss Parts 2 and 3 of our 10 Tips to Improve Your Sleep and articles on other hot topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and more. 

References

Dement, William C; Vaughan, Christopher (1999). The promise of sleep: a pioneer in sleep medicine explores the vital connection between health, happiness, and a good night's sleep. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-32008-6.

Dement, WC (2005). "Sleep extension: getting as much extra sleep as possible". Clinics in Sports Medicine 24 (2): 251–268, viii. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2004.12.014PMID 15892922.

Kryger, Meir H; Roth, Thomas; Dement, William C (2011). Principles and practice of sleep medicine (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier. ISBN 978-1-4160-6645-3.

Sleep Tips: Seven steps for better sleep. Mayo Clinic Staff. Retreived on November 25th, 2013 from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sleep/HQ01387


 

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Holiday Stress Management

Jill Stoddard

by Anna Remus 

As the holiday season approaches, many of us express feelings of stress surrounding the festivities. With the changes in routine, influx of family members and visitors, and increases in sugar and alcohol intake, it's no wonder that these next few months often seem so stressful. On top of all of these changes, the weather is cold and dark, further contributing to bad moods and even depressive thoughts. But despite all of these negative influences, we feel the need to increase our activity levels and put more pressure on ourselves; we worry about preparing for holiday parties, gift exchanges, and New Year's resolutions. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to enjoy what should be a peaceful, happy time to enjoy the company of loved ones.

 The good news is that with a little self-TLC, you can enjoy the holiday season and not get caught up in all the bustle. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the upcoming holidays:

  • Take Care of Yourself Before Others

If you're stressed about the cookies not being done, or yelling at your spouse about picking something up for a Christmas party, you certainly aren't enjoying the holidays any more than those around you. The truth is, you are not fun to be with if you do not take time for yourself to relax, even if that just means taking 5 minutes at the start of each day to remember what you are celebrating and what it means to you. Above all, start with a good foundation--eat well, get a healthy amount of sleep each night, and make sure to pencil-in some time for physical exercise. 

 

  • Don't Over-Do It

When we're celebrating, it seems easy to justify that extra glass of wine or few more Christmas cookies--afterall, if not now, then when? But the truth is that more tonight can make for morestress tomorrow. Overindulgence, including over-spending, is one of the prime sources of discontent after the holidays are over--as the long-term effects of embarrassment, weight gain, and debt last longer than the few hours of enjoyment that such intakes bring. To prevent yourself from going too far, form a plan ahead of time and stick to it--make a budget of what is realistic to spend given your income, and don't let advertisements steer you otherwise; before attending a party, plan to have only a certain number of alcoholic beverages or sweet treats--you'll thank yourself the next day!  

 

  • Plan for Family

Spending time with family can be a joy, but too much of any good thing is stressful. If you're spreading yourself too thin with family visits, it may be time to come up with a new solution. Limit the number of parties you throw, simplify the parties you throw, or limit the number of time that you attend each party. It can be difficult to say "no" to family members, but this is often a necessary part of maintaining a health holiday schedule. If you have difficulty interacting with some of your family members, try visualizing discomforting interactions before they potentially happen. Purge worry by imagining what you'd really like to say to that nosy aunt of yours, then imagine a more effective way to handle the situation. You'll be prepared for the worst, and ready to embrace the best!

 

  • Try Something New

Whether due to negative past experiences, or recurring feelings of being overwhelmed or unfulfilled, many people hold onto negative feelings surrounding the holidays. To get out of this emotional rut, try changing your holiday routine. Instead of spending time at home, try taking a vacation and experiencing a change of scenery. If you have feelings of loneliness or unfulfillment, consider volunteering your time to a charity to help you remember what this season is really about. Accept feelings of sadness or loneliness, but consider getting help if they persist or begin to interfere with your usual functioning.   

From all of us here at CSAM, Happy Holidays!