An Anxious Person’s Guide to the Holiday Season
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Traffic gets heavier, stores are over crowded with lines as long as your drive to the north pole. Isn’t this the season that people are supposed to be nicer? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. People are extra rude because they have to spend more money for things like presents, parties and decorations.
Now, I’m no scrooge. I’m the lady that decorates for Christmas the week before thanksgiving. I think it’s the most magical time of the year where I can relive my childhood by watching old movies like Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman.
If you are like me and you struggle with anxiety, the holidays can cause you some flare up.
Maybe it’s the crowds, the traffic and the sense of a time crunch. Or maybe it’s the stress of finding the perfect gift for your friends and family. We all put these expectations in our heads of what a successful Christmas morning should look like and with every other commercial on TV being that “perfect experience”, it subconsciously molds our brains- at least in my experience.
I want my house to be decorated like a Pinterest pin, I want my Christmas cookies to turn out perfect, I want to host a huge Christmas party, I want to buy more and more every year and I want to keep it all in the budget. Then there’s the element of being around family. Some people only see their family at the holidays, so talk about pressure. Just think of all of those questions you will have to answer, “How are you?”, “How is your job?”, “When are you going to have kids?” (for some). Now these answers may seem easy to answer but I know im not the only one who tends to want to just give the easy answer back. Here’s what happens…
Family member- How are you? How was your year?
Me- We are great! Work has been steady, life is good. All with a big sappy smile on my face.
In my head…
Family member- How are you? How was your year?
Me-Its been a COMPLETE MESS. Its gone by too fast. I didn’t hit my new year resolutions like I swore I would this year. I haven’t been promoted like I thought I would be this year. We have been stressed all year with working so much, barely making time for ourselves, we’ve been fighting more because of the stress, we are trying to pay off debt but I want to buy new clothes and it sucks. My anxiety has been flaring up but I cant talk to you about that because you would just tell me to take pills for it.
*Tailor answer to your specific situation*
You get the idea.
But friends, I’m writing today to give you a word of encouragement and some tips if you are like me. If anything from above resonates with you, I think these tips will help.
Tips for people who struggle with anxiety
- Its okay that you are stressed out.
The biggest mistake that we make is telling ourselves that we shouldn’t be thinking this way or feeling this way. And friends, that’s just not true. Emotions are real, stress is real. When you feel stress and anxiety start to creep up, recognize it. Let’s face it, there are tons of stressors this time of the year and you are a human. Don’t be surprised if you feel overwhelmed. You are not a bad person for having those anxious thoughts. So be okay with it. When you feel anxiety coming, say “This is just anxiety. It will go away and I will be okay”. Say it out loud if you have to. It works!
2. Make your list and check it twice
Santa was onto something. Lists are a GREAT tool for people with anxiety. As one of those people, you better believe I have lists for everything and they are everywhere. It helps me keep things in place and stay on track. Got 1,000 things to do? Write them down. You will feel better almost instantly. Extra tip- If you are feeling a little extra overwhelmed, put some things on your list that you have already done so you can scratch it off. It’s something that has helped me since college.
3. Try to remember what this season is really about
With all of the chaos that goes on, all of the meals to cook and present, gifts to buy, traffic to fight, extra expenses that pop up, try to remember that even though Christmas can be a glorified materialistic day. That’s not why we celebrate. Coming together as a family, making new memories, practicing old traditions…this is what it’s all about. Remember when you were a kid and all you wanted was to decorate Christmas cookies with your family? As an adult, we over complicate even that simple act. I mean, I know I do. Will the cookies turn out okay? Will people show up to do this with me? Will my decorations look Instagram pic worthy? What hashtag will I use? I cant be the only one who’s had these thoughts- right?
When you think of all of the “things” that you have to do, try and focus on one thing- the reason WHY you are doing those things.
Spread joy this holiday season, take advantage of the small moments with your family and friends. Don’t let your over anxious thoughts control your mood. Let’s do Christmas!