You can reduce holiday anxiety, a very real experience, by coping ahead of time. Contrary to what greeting cards and advertisements depict, the holidays aren’t always relaxed and happy-go-lucky. Lots of things conspire to make our anxiety spike, and linger, from before Thanksgiving all the way through the New Year. You don’t have to let holiday anxiety dampen your spirit. Check out 7 Causes of Holiday Anxiety if you missed it. Then, take some of the actions below to reduce holiday anxiety at its core cause.
The previous article explored seven common causes of holiday anxiety. Knowing what is behind anxiety is useful because you can use it to your advantage. When anxiety becomes specific rather than vague, it’s easier to target and overcome.
Here are some suggestions to reduce holiday anxiety and reclaim joy in your holiday season.
Reduce Holiday Anxiety By Addressing Its 7 Common Causes
- People-pleasing: No matter what your anxiety tells you, you aren’t the one who is solely responsible for everyone’s holiday happiness. Before the season kicks into high gear, make a plan to avoid people-pleasing. What will be happening? Who will be involved? What can you realistically do to contribute? “Contribute” is the key word here. You can contribute to festivities in realistically limited ways. You aren’t fully responsible for creating everyone’s personal holiday.
- Feeling torn between different families/people/groups: Accepting that you will be sharing your time will reduce anxiety because it will let you take positive action. Create a calendar to schedule events, holidays with family members, and more. You’ll ensure that you will be able to enjoy holiday festivities with the people you want to see. This takes a big chunk out of holiday anxiety and stress.
- Family problems: Accept that you can’t change other people or their behavior and turn instead to your own actions. As much as you can, avoid the cantankerous people in your life, focusing instead on the people you do enjoy. When you find yourself on the receiving end of nasty comments, for example, don’t get hooked (Keeping Calm When Others Put You Down). Find something, or someone, positive and focus your attention there. Your anxiety will decrease noticeably. You can’t control others’ actions, but you can control your own.
- Financial worries: Money can’t buy happiness, not even during the holidays. To reduce holiday money anxiety, consider your purpose. Do you want to spend money for the sake of spending money? Probably not. Do you want to spend money on gifts that express love and affection? If so, how can you give the same sentiment without spending a lot of money? Have a purpose or personal theme for the entire season to reduce spending and lower anxiety.
- Pressure to do it all, perfectly: A useful exercise in reducing perfectionistic anxiety is the “good, not great” exercise. Just let yourself be you, create the things that you create, do the things you love to do, and let go. Notice how things aren’t perfect. Notice how they aren’t even great. Notice how they’re good, and that is more than good enough. When you let go of the need for holiday perfection, you reduce holiday anxiety.
- Unrealistic visions of the perfect holiday: Simply be. Be fully present in whatever moment you’re in. Use your senses to notice lights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch. This is what’s real. The vision of perfection that came from greeting cards, television, advertisements, or other sources isn’t real. Your present moment is real, and letting yourself enjoy it rather than comparing it to a nonexistent ideal will zap holiday anxiety.
- Triggers: Knowing what your anxiety triggers are will help you take measures to avoid them or confront them, whatever is best for you in the situation. Triggers can cause significant anxiety, so consider working through them with a therapist.
When you address the causes of your holiday anxiety, you can take action to reduce your anxiety. The above ideas are meant to give you a head start in reducing your holiday anxiety. Add your own strategies, and enjoy the season.