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Mental Health

December Recipe: How to Calm End of Year Anxiety

December has quite a reputation for being the busiest, most stressful month of the year. Deadlines, plans and expectations create the pressure and leave us overwhelmed. Somehow we’re supposed to complete all the projects, reflect upon the year and get ready for the holiday season, which often comes with its own set of struggles. No wonder some of us experience intense anxiety at this time.

But here’s a little idea. Why don’t we change the way we think about December? Let’s make a point to enjoy it in our own special way and choose to be kind to ourselves through this hectic time. I suggest a simple recipe to ease end of year anxiety.

First, lower your expectations. I feel like holiday season always comes with the highest expectations of all and let’s be honest, social media doesn’t really help. Cutting down on meaningless scrolling is always a good idea and almost a lifesaver during the most instagrammable and highlighted time of the year. So click that log out button and check in with yourself and your reality. Holiday season – just like any other time – can be anything you want. Like really, whatever you want. And disconnecting from the online world may help you distinguish your needs from someone else’s.

The next step on your agenda could be taking a good long look at your to-do list. Go through it mindfully once or twice, then go again and cross off mercilessly all the unnecessary things. Be honest, do you really need to do as much as you had planned? I’m pretty sure that you can cut your list in half, so go ahead and do that.

Now that you’re free from distractions and have some extra time and energy, create a little wishlist of things that you and only you want to do for pleasure. Do you want to include extra gym session in your schedule because it makes you feel good? Please do that, self-care is always a good idea. Do you want to hang out with your friends or take a little solo trip? Well, now that you have more time, you sure can do that. I think sometimes we choose to be busy and overloaded because if we are not, we have no idea what to do with ourselves. So just plan something of your own, something you want. And if it’s simply spending a day on the couch eating chocolate and watching some holiday movies, do just that.

It’s true that many things in our life are beyond our control but we do have the power to choose our attitude. Every December I feel the pressure to end the year in a particular way. I feel like I have to do some reflection, think of my results, set new big goals and start off the new year with extra energy. But in reality it doesn’t have to be this way. Life is fluid, and so are we. The change of the calendar doesn’t necessarily have to mean something. In fact, it doesn’t mean anything unless we attribute the special meaning to it. So it’s always up to you.

This year I’m planning to slow down, stay away from the holiday rush as much as possible and indulge in my favorite holiday activities like watching movies, enjoying Christmas lights and drinking mulled wine. And I encourage you to do what you need to finish the year in good spirits.

Leila Askerova

Helsinki '22

English major with a love for slow life and all things cozy.
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