Category: Tunnel Light

How to Manage Your Anxiety During the Holidays

The holidays can be a time of relaxation and joy, when you can spend quality time with your loved ones and reflect on the past year. They can also be stressful and full of anxiety, however, especially if you’re traveling out of town or will be having family members come to stay with you. It can be difficult to maintain a routine during the holidays, which is one of the biggest triggers for anxiety attacks, and it’s also hard for many people to relax when they have a full schedule.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can manage your anxiety during the holidays that will help you take a deep breath and enjoy yourself. It takes a little planning and some help from a friend or loved one, but if you’re prepared you’ll be able to tackle anything that comes your way during the holiday season.

Here are some of the best ways to get started.

Have a good plan

Being prepared for your anxiety will help you manage it in the moment, and that can help you get through just about any difficult situation. Having a good plan in place means talking to a trusted friend or loved one who can help you get out of any exchange that makes you uncomfortable, researching and practicing coping methods such as breathing techniques that will help you relax, and sticking with a routine as closely as possible to help yourself stay calm. Read on here for the best ways to boost your mood.

Keep your expectations realistic

One of the best ways to keep your anxiety at bay is to keep your expectations from getting out of control. If you can manage them and remember that not everything always goes according to plan, you’ll be able to relax a bit and keep your stress levels low. It might help to have a backup plan for important events, such as Christmas parties.

Think ahead

It can be very helpful to think ahead before any holiday event, especially if you’re in addiction recovery. You might want to prepare a response in case someone asks why you’re not drinking, or think about how you’ll keep well-meaning people from handing you a cup full of holiday spirit. One of the easiest ways to do this is to bring your own drink, or always have a bottle of water in your hand. Not only will this prevent awkward questions, it will keep your hands occupied and help you keep temptation at bay. For more great tips on creating a game plan for your sobriety, read this helpful article.

Stay on schedule

It can be hard to keep to a routine when you’re traveling or have people staying in your home, but it’s important to try for the sake of your anxiety. Even something as small as keeping up your bedtime rituals–brushing your teeth, washing your face, reading from a good book–can help you feel better and face the next day with renewed energy.

Get organized

Being disorganized can really ramp up your anxiety, so plan ahead for as much as you can, and have a backup plan for anything super important, such as traveling. Taking flights during the holidays can be harrowing, but if you have a good plan you’ll have peace of mind, as well. Make packing lists, confirm your travel itinerary, arrange for transportation at your destination, and look for flights that leave early in the morning, as airports tend to be less crowded during this time.

Remember to practice self-care during this time, as it can be hard on you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat well-balanced meals, and get in some exercise as often as possible.

By: Jennifer Scott – Contributing Writer

Lessons in Leadership


The concept of leadership sounds simple, but the authentic practice of it difficult for so many.  As someone who leads individuals and organizations, I cannot think of a more important concept.  Leadership can legitimately make or break an organization and culture.  Leaders are not just CEO’s and Managers; parents, community members, and many others assume leadership roles daily, without even understanding the associated responsibilities.  Every great success and failure I have seen as an employee, therapist and human being has been driven by either poor or exceptional leadership and fits into one of the below categories.

4 types of leaders

The ‘dictator’ leader – this leader leads through control and power, rather than encouragement and teamwork. They are usually in it for the money and/or the power; they could care less about morale, building culture and programs or anything other than their paycheck and exerting control over others. This leader often has no knowledge of the true responsibility of leadership, and even less desire to assume the role.  Often overcompensating for an array of other shortcomings, this leader will suck the life out of individuals, cultures and entire organizations.
The ‘follower’ leader – this leader has no clue what they are doing, and lacks confidence.  They absorb the energy and ideas from those around them and are constantly changing course, with many around them departing, usually for lack of leadership.  There is no clear vision, little passion and even less emphasis on growth and development.  With a dedicated team around them, this leader could succeed, but team members desiring a strong leader, won’t be able to hold on.

The ‘maxed out’ leader – this leader has given up; they are tired, beat down and going through the motions.  Often times, these leaders are the worst for morale, as they are one of the only leaders that truly make teams feel hopeless and checked out. They have all the answers, but they often complain about everything.  When the ‘maxed out’ leader is not in proverbial fetal position, they can often be found complaining about the company, the benefit package, the cafeteria food, or any other topic that fosters negativity – YouTube ‘Debbie Downer’ for a visual representation.

The ‘saddle up’ leader – passion, drive and an ability to foster the growth of those around him/her, the saddle up leader is the driver of change and growth.  This leader has buy in, likeability and the energy to forge forward.  Authenticity is a key characteristic of this leader, encouraging comfort & respect from those around him or her. The ‘saddle up’ leader has skills that cannot be learned; the desire, motivation and wherewithal to foster other leaders and bring about long-term, sustainable change.

No doubt you have been surrounded by one or all of the above leaders at some point in your life.  Being a leader does not mean you have all the answers, it simply means that you are humble enough to ask for them and fearless enough to lead the charge for new, innovative ones.  Leadership is a responsibility, not a title, and unfortunately, a responsibility that many are not willing to assume.  Start today by being the leader you always wanted and ‘saddle up.’




Struggle with irrational fears, stress, overthinking, ruminating thoughts, extreme pressure, etc?  Have days where crawling into fetal position sounds more enjoyable than coping in the real world?  Join the ever-growing club!

Our culture is more grounded in reality TV than reality itself. Call it pressure, call it perfectionism, call it whatever you want; it’s anxiety. Anxiety to succeed, anxiety to be perfect, anxiety to get ahead. The American dream has transformed into an unobtainable nightmare. Happiness and security have been replaced with achieving bigger, better & faster; bigger houses and bank accounts, better body & social media followings & faster EVERYTHING!  Even employers expect more and more, with little emphasis on human beings having a life outside of their job.  Am I shocked that humans that have grown up in the real world, with imperfect families, experiences and limited options resort to substances and other poor coping strategies?? Hell no!  So, what’s the way out, you ask?  Here’s my professional advice – talk about that shit; all our trauma, all our mistakes, all our imperfections, all those feelings that make us less than perfect, and ultimately, human.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be Britney Spears’ back-up dancer.  I wanted to be famous and rich and world-renowned. As I get older, you know who I aspire to be?  Those people who just BE; not for fame or riches or notoriety, but for inner peace. We have been conditioned to believe that if we aren’t ‘stars,’ we aren’t shit.  Here’s a secret, my friends – the ‘stars’ are struggling, too! Much like the patients I work with daily, they use substances from their liquor cabinet, doctor or street pharmacist to block out the feelings, fears and things that make them who they are. Let’s let that shit out. Let’s stop seeking ‘unreality’ and come back to the fact that we get one life, one chance to truly live.  Let’s encourage our family, friends, patients and society to let it out. Instead of rich and famous, let’s be anxious and AWESOME! Let’s just BE!

We get one shot at life, and we are so busy trying to be something amazing that we forget to just be the only truly unique thing in this world; ourselves. That in itself is what makes us amazing.

I am asking everyone who reads this to share why they are #anxious&awesome. The only way out is through, so let that shit out and start recovering your life!

Grieving without shame

As a clinician in NJ, I am constantly amazed by how vocal and public we can be about some things, while remaining totally limited in our ability to discuss other things.  As a society where almost EVERYTHING is public knowledge, from the places we ‘check-in’ across the globe to our personal feelings on every possible topic, it baffles me how some topics are still considered too taboo to speak about.  Grief is one such topic that we still keep under wraps.  In a world full of transparency, would it surprise you that pictures of people’s daily clothing, #fashion, and members of their family, #family, have more than 500 million posts on Instagram and Twitter,  while tags such as #grief and #bereavement have less than 155,000 posts across those same platforms?   Even though grief is an individual process that people often want to experience in private, silencing its existence only maintains this taboo and makes so many people I work with feel like their grieving process is “taking too long” or that there is something wrong with them for “still feeling this way.”

Grief is as individual as a snowflake and the grieving process is not time-limited, meaning that it is totally fine for you to deal with it for as long as you need to, without feeling ashamed of it.  Talk about your grief, use tools to help you cope in a positive way, and don’t worry about what society expects your process to look like.    Let’s lessen the stigma on grief and make it comfortable for people to own their process without shame.  

The legit power of positivity

When I talk with people about the power of positivity, they often look at me like I have three heads. Though being positive is something we are encouraged to do from a very young age, societal, individual and employment demands often wear on us, forcing us to be less than positive over time. As an escape from our daily routine, we count on television and social media; two platforms that only continue to fill our head with negativity and hatred. I have made it my personal mission to show the world the power of positivity, one positive action at a time.

Have you ever noticed how someone’s face immediately lights up after you hold the door for them, wish them a good morning or smile at them while walking by? If you have never experienced one of the above, you are missing out. I make a commitment to express positivity, manners and gratitude to everyone I come in contact with, from my early morning bike ride to those I come across throughout my work day. I have noticed that not only does it brighten my day, but it truly makes a positive impact on those on the receiving end. Positivity, though conceptually simple to understand, is greatly lacking in our society, and just a touch of it from all of us each day can truly change the way we see the world and interact with one another!

*This simple concept helped me develop the Positivity Project – together we can spread positivity and flip the script on the negativity plaguing our lives*

Put yourself FIRST

Though counseling is becoming less stigmatized over time, it is still a process that receives a tremendous amount of criticism. People often assume that if you go for counseling, to address an addiction or particular set of behaviors, that you have given up the fight. There is no shame in asking for help and speaking with someone who is able to give an honest and helpful assessment and plan.

At Tunnel Light, we want to help you begin embracing life again, but you have to take the first step. Don’t succumb to the stigma of counseling or the feelings associated with admitting that you are powerless – each day is a new day to start over, so contact us TODAY!

How to Manage Your Anxiety During the Holidays

The holidays can be a time of relaxation and joy, when you can spend quality time with your loved ones and reflect on the …

Lessons in Leadership

Leadership The concept of leadership sounds simple, but the authentic practice of it difficult for so many.  As someone …


Struggle with irrational fears, stress, overthinking, ruminating thoughts, extreme pressure, etc?  Have days where crawling into …