Getting Through the Holidays with Anxiety


The holidays are a time to eat and be merry with the ones you love. But for people with anxiety, it’s hard to let go of intrusive thoughts and savour the season. As tempting as it may be, avoiding gatherings isn’t the solution to holiday anxiety. Instead, use this guide for help navigating holiday events with your anxiety in check.


Holiday Shopping

Holiday gift-buying can be agonising. In addition to facing big holiday shopping crowds, you’re worried about buying a gift that the recipient will love and you can afford.

Before the holiday shopping season starts, determine a realistic budget and who will be on your gift list. If you’re not sure what to buy, don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions from the recipient. For most people, receiving something they like is more important than the element of surprise. If your budget is tight or you’re out of ideas, there’s nothing wrong with a gift certificate and a thoughtful greeting card.

When you’re ready to buy, skip the crowds and shop online. Buying gifts online gives you plenty of time to comparison shop without dealing with pushy store associates, impatient shoppers, or the sensory overload of Christmas music on full blast.


Family Get-Togethers

Family gatherings are often the most anxiety-inducing part of the holidays, especially if your family includes strained relationships. That anxiety may start weeks before the holiday arrives as you worry about everything that could go wrong.

As Talkspace suggests, you can manage anticipatory anxiety by focusing on the parts of holiday gatherings that you enjoy, not the ones you don’t. While it’s fine to plan how you’ll handle common disagreements or toxic relatives, avoid imagining “what-ifs” that are unlikely to happen.

Many people with anxiety find it helpful to book separate accommodations rather than staying with relatives. This way, you have time to relax alone after a hectic day. It’s also an opportunity to check in with your support system back home without interruptions or prying ears.

If traveling far from home, you’ll want to make sure your cell phone plan has enough coverage and data for making phone calls to friends or video chatting with your therapist. Otherwise, you could find yourself stuck with spotty coverage or overage fees and roaming charges.


Office Parties

For some people, office parties are a fun opportunity to mingle with coworkers without the pressure of deadlines. For others, it’s an obligation loaded with awkwardness and a fear of embarrassment.

In many companies, skipping the annual holiday party is as much of a faux pas as drinking a few too many cocktails once you’re there. Rather than avoiding the office party, commit to attending for at least an hour and make a plan for who you’ll talk to once there.

If your mind tends to shut down when anxiety takes hold, Fast Company recommends preparing a list of talking points in advance. Asking a coworker about their children or recent vacation or complimenting someone on a project is sure to ingratiate you with your colleagues, but complaining about your job won’t.

Whatever you do, don’t rely on alcohol to get through your office holiday party. While it might ease your party anxiety, it will only make your nerves worse when it’s time to return to work after the holidays.

The holidays are a stressful time for many people with anxiety, but that’s no reason to avoid them. Not only is skipping out on holidays harmful to relationships, it also makes next year’s celebrations seem that much scarier as things build up in your mind. Instead of missing out on celebrating this holiday season, let these tips ease you through without the stress.



Guest Post by Jennifer Scott

Based in Philadelphia, Jennifer Scott knows what it feels like to experience anxiety and depression. Ever since she was a teenager, she was diagnosed with both and now as a single mom, she wants to share her stories with others who might be living the same way. Being a strong advocate of opening up about our mental health and with creating the website Spirit Finder, Jennifer hopes that the platform will be a haven for those who want to come together to discuss their experiences freely without any judgment present as well as be an online resource for those who need more information about anxiety and depression. In the end, she wants people to realise that they have the power within themselves to combat anything with the right guidance and support of a community that believes in them.

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