4 Tips for Dealing with Holiday Anxiety

 When you struggle with anxiety, the run-up to the holiday season can feel a bit like a journey into a treacherous wilderness. Emotions and expectations run high, and there’s added stress from scheduling travel or accounting for visitors. With so many people running on empty going into the holidays, tempers run on a short fuse, and there’s always the possibility for conflict. On top of that, when dealing with extended family, there are often sensitive subjects—whether that’s political disagreements or ancient family history.

  In today’s post, we’re going to look at 4 tips to help you deal with holiday anxiety.

1. Make a Holiday Plan

 Anxiety and uncertainty walk hand-in-hand. That spooky forest? What makes it so dangerous is awareness of the unknown dangers that lurk within. Accordingly, your first step dealing with any holiday anxiety is understanding it and planning for it.

 Take some time to organize your thoughts and pay attention to how your body reacts during the planning process. Are there holiday traditions you’d prefer to avoid or cut short? Do you dread seeing particular relatives again? If your anxieties amp up during the holidays, consider whether or not what past experiences that might be rooted in.

  Next, it’s time to plan for how to handle those stresses:

  • Schedule shorter, more manageable visits.
  • Prepare for small talk to avoid uncomfortable conversations.
  • Be respectful of your own needs and discomfort.

  When it comes to the holidays, show yourself the love and respect you deserve by making a holiday plan that works for you. Instead of throwing yourself into the lion’s den, give your future self the tools you need to escape.

2. Practice Grounding

  Anxiety keeps us worrying about the future by reminding us of dangers from our past. When we’re feeling anxious, it’s because our bodies are on high alert. One way to counter that is by having a ‘grounding’ practice that puts us back firmly in the present.

photo of a woman who looks stressed If you feel anxiety building up like a pressure cooker, use that as a sign to focus on engaging your senses. Excuse yourself to the bathroom and splash some water on your face; go get a snack from a veggie tray and pay special attention to the crunch of a carrot between your teeth. Grounding practices work to disarm our hypervigilance by putting our focus on our other senses. Focusing on smells, visual patterns, tastes, textures, or background noise are all ways you can calm your body and hit the reset button.

3. Set Boundaries and Expectations

  Before the holidays get going, it’s a good idea to set some boundaries and expectations. An early conversation to let your family know you’re planning to leave a party early, or may not be able to make it, can help avoid hurt feelings later on. If you’re planning to travel for the holidays, making plans to stay with friends or at a hotel, rather than with relatives, may give you a safe place to decompress after holiday gatherings.

  The important thing is practicing open communication. Let people know if there are sensitive topics you would prefer not to discuss; be ready to shut them down if they bring it up regardless.

4. Avoid Old Patterns

  When dealing with holiday anxiety, destructive old patterns have a way of re-emerging. Be conscious of things like alcohol intake and diet if those are areas where you struggle. Bring along alternative coping mechanisms; a good book, a video game, or something else to fall back on when you need a little comfort.

Schedule a Consultation

  Reach out today if you’re dreading the holidays and looking for help. Sometimes the best way to handle anxiety is by talking about it in therapy in a safe, judgment free zone. I would love to work with you and be an outlet for you to process and untangle those emotions in a pressure-free environment.