How to Have Less Anxiety During The Holidays
Almost everyone I know feels anxiety during the holidays but I believe you can experience less anxiety during the holidays. I've struggled with an anxiety disorder for years and most of the year it's kind of manageable. However, my anxiety during the holidays is often higher. Instead of losing it completely, I have learned a few things that help me feel more in control (well, most of the time). Here are several tips that help me feel happier with less anxiety during the holidays -- and these tips can help you too.
Why Do You Feel More Anxiety During the Holidays?
How about stress, stress, expectations and stress over the holidays. Okay, in all seriousness, this time of year is notoriously anxiety-producing because of a few reasons:
- It's the end of the year so there are lots of loose ends that need to be tied up before January.
- You get less daylight and vitamin D. We tend to spend more time inside studying, working, shopping, wrapping or avoiding crowds (my personal favorite).
- You likely have expectations that make you more anxious: family to see, holiday parties to attend, gifts to give, work to get done, children or partners to please and oh yeah: the images of anxiety-free family's living with ease everywhere you turn make it impossible not to doubt yourself or compare yourself to something unobtainable (The Best Gift The Mentally Ill Can Give Their Families).
All of these things make most of us feel like we have to be perfect, too, not overtly, but subconsciously, and adds loads of anxiety during the holidays.
The truth is that most people feel anxiety during the holidays. Those we've lost come back into our memories even though they're not here this holiday. The goals we wanted to obtain last year that are still not finished and we may hold the fear of disappointing others. Its not such a "merry" time of year for everyone.
5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety During the Holidays and Feel in Control
- Recognize your emotions. Anxiety, anger, sadness and happiness are all emotions trying to tell us something. If you're anxious because there is a line out the door of the mall, your body is trying to tell you to avoid or to be bit cautious because there are a lot of people in there. The trouble comes when we say "I shouldn't feel this way." Um, yes, you have a right to feel this way. If you feel like you can't tolerate the emotion, talk to a friend or family member, but don't ignore it. Keeping these emotions in or ignoring them will only make you more anxious later (Control Your Emotions And Feel Confident).
- Let go of perfection. No one is perfect. Nobody's holiday goes exactly as planned. Things come up; meals burn; people disappoint you;p these things happen. Don't let the anxiety around the perfect gift or ideal day consume you. I know it sounds easier said than done but it's possible when you lower your expectations of yourself.
- Do small things to feel control. I have more anxiety during the holidays when I look at all of the stuff that needs to be done. Instead, I try doing one thing at a time and giving myself a little credit or a break to sit with the feeling of accomplishment. Don't try to rush through the madness. Be mindful of how much you can tolerate and try to get a few little things done to get you feeling more confident. Wrap one present, send an email or clean one area of your home; don't overdo it.
- Slow down and get strategic. Seriously stop what you are doing and ask yourself, "what do I want to be doing?" Do I want to be cooking dinner or shopping? Do I want to be relaxing with tea or watching a movie? The stuff that causes more anxiety, for me, is going to crowded stores, being with too much family or overthinking my daily and holiday lists that feel like they are mandatory, but they aren't. I can't avoid the family but I can certainly let them know I'm bringing a dish and I'll see them at six. I don't have to engage in the all day family time. I can order from Amazon Prime or another online service and get gifts in two days or two hours (depending on where you live) plus all the stuff I need for my home. I can avoid the triggers for my anxiety and feel confident about getting the things done that need to be completed. You can too. You are not superhuman; let others help out and establish healthy boundaries.
- Spend time alone. All the people, all the music and all of the lights are too much for me (Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud). There are days I can manage it and days when I would prefer to be anywhere else. I have to recharge my batteries so that I can get mindful and feel less anxious. That means going on a walk alone, watching a show in room for a little while away from the family, or even a meditation (Calming Anxiety: an Alternative to Meditation). You have to get away from others' views and perspectives and energy sometimes. It's a great way to feel more confident even when you have anxiety.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
LPC, E. (2015, December 11). How to Have Less Anxiety During The Holidays, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/12/how-to-have-less-anxiety-during-the-holidays-and-more-confidence
Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC
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