How to Navigate Holiday Anxiety

Dec 17, 2021

While we often associate the holiday season with happy memories, it can also be a tough emotional time. The holidays often present a dizzying array of decisions and demands and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed by it all.

Setting boundaries even during the holidays is an opportunity to advocate for ourselves and our well-being. Here are five tips to help you navigate anxiety through this holiday season.

(1) Pause and breathe for a while

Whether you are the host or just attending, you don’t have to dive into the festivities right away. Before interacting with others, you may sit first at a quiet corner and take deep breaths. This grounding exercise can help you stay present once you are surrounded by friends and family.

(2) Reflect on your favorite and least favorite aspects of the holidays
Think of ways to minimize the bad while accentuating the good. For example, if you do not like to travel but enjoy seeing family, consider inviting them into your home. We can get emotionally “stuck” by believing we do not have a choice surrounding holiday plans, but the pandemic has taught us to make room for changes and focus on what matters.

(3) Learn to say no
Saying yes when you actually feel like saying no can leave you feeling resentful. Your loved ones will understand if you can’t participate in every gathering or activity. Let’s normalize setting boundaries and honoring them.

(4) Seek help if needed
If you take on disproportionate responsibility, ask for help and delegate tasks. Do not be quick to assume that others know you are struggling. But the holiday season is a time to come together and that means helping each other out so that our burdens feel lighter and our joy is magnified.

(5) Suggest getting together after the holidays
There’s a lot happening this time of year and only a short amount of time to see all your loved ones. You may suggest to some of your friends that, instead of cramming something in, you could get together when people are more free and you could really enjoy each other’s company. Instead of turning them away, you are carving out quality time for them.

If these feelings of anxiety and depression persist, you may talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Check out our directory to learn more.

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