‘Tis the season to be anxious

Nov. 26, 2018 / By Kimberly Lodge, RHIT, CCS

Anxiety is just part of the holiday season, but several different types of anxiety can be experienced during this time of year. Generalized Anxiety (F41.1) starts around Halloween, with just thinking about everything that needs to be done before the holidays: food, presents, decorations, family, etc.  Before we know it, Thanksgiving has arrived and we must decide: Where are we having dinner, who is invited, what foods are we serving, does anyone need a place to stay, is there room to accommodate other family members and what is everyone going to think? 

The Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, and with it more anxiety. As company arrived, we may have experienced Social Anxiety (F40.11). More worries crept in: Is the house clean enough, is there enough food in the house, is there enough room for everyone, is everyone having a good time, and do we need to do something special for anyone. Compound with more Social Anxiety (F40.11), worries about being judged on everything you do or say, like did you serve the correct food, did you say the right things, did you wear the right outfit. 

At times, it may have even felt like a Panic Attack (F41.0), but more likely it was Other Mixed Anxiety (F40.3), with the feeling you are being judged on everything along with all the other anxieties of the day. After Thanksgiving day, you might have felt drained physically and mentally worn out, only to officially start the holiday shopping season the next day. Dealing with the crowds, shopping centers and even rude people throughout the day may have resulted in a different type of anxiety: Anxiety Hysteria (F41.8).

Once again, the pre-anxiety surfaces with the arrival of December, along with all the anxieties compounded with the stress of giving and receiving presents and attending holiday parties. 

 Anxietycentre.com describes seven ways to have a “Less Anxious and Stressed Holiday Season”:

  1. Get plenty of sleep – The body does its best repair work when we are asleep.
  2. Take frequent rest breaks – Resting throughout the day can be enough to diffuse and offset a buildup of stress.
  3. Be sensible about what you eat – High sugar foods can stress the body. Eat slower and have smaller portions.
  4. Be mindful of what you drink – Drinks high in sugar, calories and/or alcohol can stress the body.
  5. Enjoy you holiday moment by moment – Don’t spend time thinking about the past or imagining the future, live in the moment.
  6. Reduce your expectations – Do not have unrealistic expectation of the holiday season.
  7. Do what you like to do – You can reduce stress just by doing what YOU like to do and not what others expect.

So, when your heart starts racing, and you’re sweating for no good reason, or the dizziness or nausea sets in, just walk away, take a deep breath and take 15 minutes for yourself. Remember that everyone is feeling the anxiety.

Kimberly Lodge is a coding analyst for 3M Health Information Systems.

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