Anxiety is such a common thing during this time of year, but you can beat anxiety during the holidays. I know things like parties, family, entertaining, and all the other things associated with the holidays can be anxiety-inducing for people — me too. Just thinking about my family sitting in my apartment while I stress about making Christmas dinner is freaking me out. And while we’re not all the same, I do believe there are some techniques we can all try to beat anxiety over the holidays.
Beating Anticipatory Anxiety During the Holidays
Anticipatory anxiety is the anxiety you feel when you anticipate something. So, for example, you might be feeling anxiety about the holidays right now even though the holidays might not actually be starting for five days. Anticipatory anxiety is typical when you’re anticipating something unpleasant, but even if you find the holidays pleasant, you may still feel anxiety about them.
To beat anticipatory anxiety during the holidays, try these things:
- Remember, you don’t know the future. The holidays might be bad, but they might also be great. Allow for that possibility in your mind.
- Remember you don’t control everything. So much of anxiety comes from our desire to control every detail. Try to let that desire for extreme control go.
- Plan out your holidays. People often feel more in-control when they know what is happening, when. So plan out when you will do your cooking, cleaning, baking, shopping, visiting, etc.
Beating Social Anxiety During the Holidays
Social anxiety might be one of the most prevalent forms of anxiety over the holidays, thanks to all the expected socializing. We’re expected to spend time with family, friends, and even strangers, and this might be something with which we are unaccustomed or that we simply don’t want to do. This is okay. This doesn’t make you weird or broken; it just makes you different than many others. And different is what I breathe, personally.
If you want to beat social anxiety during the holidays, try these things:
- Remember, not everyone is a social butterfly. Remember that it’s okay to be you and focus on what you like about the holidays. If talking at parties isn’t it, then spend more time doing something that isl
- Plan on limiting your social interactions. Tell people early that you may not be able to attend their event. Explain that you just have too much on your plate.
- Prepare for social interactions. I like to rehearse social interactions. I talk to people when they’re not there a lot. Sometimes that’s helpful in preparing for the real thing.
- Give yourself an escape hatch. When you attend a social gathering, make sure you give yourself a reason to leave at any time. An early morning, a sick cat, or a headache will generally suffice. (Yes, that’s not the most honest way of handling it. It’s okay to simply say, “I need to leave,” too.)
Beating Generalized Anxiety During the Holidays
Some people find that the holidays bring about anxiety no matter what. The anxiety isn’t specifically social or anticipatory; it’s related to everything. I understand that feeling, too, as I have generalized anxiety myself. This means that anxiety is part of my daily diet of insanity, no matter what. If you feel this way around the holidays, I understand. The holidays tend to create stress and ramp up emotions in general.
If you want to beat generalized anxiety during the holidays, try these tips:
- Drop the expectations. Expectations (typically of perfection) are not helpful. It much better to go with the flow and realize that what you want may happen or may not, and that’s okay.
- Realize that anxiety is part of life, but sometimes it lies to you. Anxiety is an early warning system that something dangerous is about to happen. This is a positive thing; it helps protect us. Unfortunately, many of us have this system ramped up to 11 to the point where it sees danger everywhere. So, remember that anxiety can actually be a helpful part of life and you can appreciate that, but just because it can be doesn’t mean it always is. Sometimes anxiety lies to you.
- Breathe, breathe, beathe. Learning to deep breathe is critical and practicing that skill throughout stressful situations is what will help you beat anxiety any time. Learn to breathe from your diaphram, learn box breathing, or use any other breathing technique that you find helpful.
- Schedule time for yourself. Spend some time with yourself meditating, doing stretching exercizes or just working on a puzzle. This can help center you and reduce anxiety overall.
- Schedule an extra appointment with your therapist. If you’re seeing a psychotherapist for your anxiety, now is an excellent time for an extra appointment.
Beating Anxiety During the Holidays Is Hard But Worth It
These tips are to get you started when dealing with anxiety over the holidays. Anxiety at any time of the year is hard, but it may be even harder right now. But put your tools and tips into practice, and it can get a little easier.
Do you have any tips for beating anxiety over the holidays? I would love to hear it. Comment below.
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