'Tis the season for completely losing it. The holidays are a worry-filled time for a lot of people, but it turns out that you might be partially to blame for your own anxiety. But we know (or we hope) you're not purposely trying to sabotage yourself, so here's a quick rundown of things you might be doing without realizing they're actually making you feel worse.
Take a deep breath and try to relax. You might be stressed because...
1. You haven't laughed today
If you can't remember the last time you laughed so hard you were blinded by tears, you should reconsider your life choices. Laughter has been shown to relieve stress, stimulate blood flow, relax muscles, promote a healthy immune system and relieve pain.
2. You're listening to the wrong playlist
Multiple studies have shown the relaxing benefits of listening to music. But everyone has their own musical preferences. Your piano teacher might chill out to Debussy, but maybe The Cranberries take you back to a relaxing, mid-90s kind of place. Know yourselves, guys.
3. You left that sink of dirty dishes for "tomorrow."
Consider your cleaning habits. Were you "that" roommate in college? Would it be not uncommon to find a partially decomposed banana lying under a pile of fliers and junk mail on top of your refrigerator? Is the bottom of your bag a sad collection of broken pens? Keeping your spaces tidy may not be an anxiety cure-all, but there's evidence to suggest it can help relieve stress.
4. You're trying to face your stressors
Valiant effort, but the truth is, within reason, you can try to avoid things that stress you out. Don't like crowds? Then stop grocery shopping on Saturday afternoons. The Mayo Clinic says you can totally avoid specific people, too -- which you're probably already doing if you don't like them, but now you don't have to feel guilty about dodging whatever mouth-breathing co-worker you can't stand.
5. You haven't said anything nice about yourself
Repetitive self-assurance ("Everything will be okay") has been found to be helpful in reducing anxiety. The brain is a powerful tool, so use it.