Have panic attacks become your new cardio? The weather today is increasing anxiety followed by full-blown dread. Do you feel that? The tsunami of anguish, angst, and alarm headed your way before the upcoming holidays. Need I remind you that we almost always agonize over things that never come to pass? Yet the worry, nail-biting, and dread hit us all at different times. You may toss and turn half the night, or sit around over-thinking all day long. Here’s a free tip, sweet friends: Fretting does not actually allow you to control your future.

Do your hobbies include over-thinking everything and winning fake arguments in your head? If you think that thinking about every possible, negative case scenario will protect you somehow, you’ve certainly chosen a torturous and illogical form of self-protection. The truth is that it ultimately makes you feel even more powerless, exhausted, and sometimes even hopeless. Not exactly the solution we were going for, now, is it? Instead of wringing your hands, try rolling up your sleeves instead.

All the extra self-imposed obligations we give ourselves around holiday time – it’s no wonder we end up with stress headaches. You may truly want to bake five pounds of homemade macaroons, but guess what? You don’t have to. You can literally spend the entire day convincing yourself that you cannot cope with some imagined future ordeal. But you have handled tons of adversity that life has tossed at you. Besides, stress doesn’t go with your outfit.

Worrying is actually worshipping the problem. When you find yourself ruminating, try instead to imagine a beautiful memory as vividly as possible. If you want to fly, you have to give up everything that is weighing you down. So by all means, don’t try to wing it. Plan in advance and delegate those chores. Leave all the bitterness for the maror, please.

There are two days in the week that you should surely never worry about: yesterday and tomorrow. So what are you stewing about pre-holiday season? That the stew won’t come out perfectly? That your client will change his mind and take his business elsewhere after you made reservations at that five-star hotel in Timbuktu? Wait, you say you only worry about three hours a week? Well, that’s 156 hours a year, my friends. Still think you should be biting your nails in advance? Hmmm.

Well, aren’t you just two scoops of grumpy in a bowl of the jitters? Let’s face it: Your ancestors did not free themselves from Egypt by eating cake. So you stay up till 2 a.m. working overtime or making those matzah delicacies. Repeat after me: “Dear 2 a.m.: We have got to stop meeting this way.” Of course, that insomnia does sharpen your math skills, as you lie awake calculating how much sleep you’ll get if you fall asleep right now. Sheesh.

If you belong to the “Walking Tired Zombies,” you had best make sleep a priority. Not getting your zzzzzz’s prevents you from thinking clearly, compromises your productivity, not to mention wreaking havoc on your moods. Believe it or not, improving your sleep habits is one of the best ways to improve your quality of life.

So what is the silliest thing you ever stressed over? C’mon, fess up, you little fussbudget. Time to ask yourself some tough questions, sweet friends: “Is there anything I can really do about this problem? Will being anxious make this issue better or worse? You know, worry is a down payment on a problem you may never even have. And wouldn’t you rather be a warrior than a worrier?

Hit that pause button on those troubling thoughts. Just do it…a bit later. Get moving. Walk outdoors a bit and feel the sun or breeze on your skin. Take a break and dance around the living room. Exercise is the most natural anti-anxiety treatment in the world. Before you start spiraling, share you worries with a friend who won’t judge you. Saying your feelings aloud will help you put things in perspective.

Trust me, your holiday table and your house do not have to be picture-perfect or Instagram worthy. And please don’t worry about what people think. They don’t do it very often. Heh. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean “Me first.” It means: “Me, too.”

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.