5 Tips For Managing Holiday Anxiety

Asma Rehman, LPC

This time of year can create quite a bit of anxiety. Our therapists understands that the busyness of the holiday season leaves many people feeling quite anxious about everything. You wonder whether or not you have enough money to buy the presents that you want for loved ones. You look at your holiday party schedule and aren’t sure if you can attend everything. Those are just two examples. For people who already have one or more forms of anxiety, they feel like it’s been amped up to extreme levels. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to manage this anxiety. Here are five of them.

1) Write Down Your Feelings

Managing anxiety through the holiday seasonIf you’re grieving lost loved ones this holiday, then it may be expressed through your anxiety. The Anxiety Center of Houston realizes that your grief may be compounding your anxiety, thus making it worse than usual. For example, you might think that you have a handle on your panic attacks, but then start having more of them during the months of November and December. It’s your brain’s way of turning your grief into a slightly different process. You might also feel some physical effects that appear as a form of General Anxiety Disorder, such as unusual muscle cramps that lead to the fear of coming down with a serious illness. Basically, your grief can manifest itself as your anxiety, unless you find ways of coping. The best thing that you can do in order to make this better is to write down your feelings. You don’t have to share those thoughts with anyone, not even your therapists at the Anxiety Center of Houston, but it’s good to get them out of your system. Therapeutic journals exist for a reason.

2) Lower Your Expectations for Yourself

If you used to love the holiday season, but now regret every moment of it, then something is clearly wrong. It’s possible that you’re holding yourself to some extremely high expectations. Once you lower them, you’ll begin to feel less anxious. Here at the Anxiety Center of Houston, we recommend that you teach yourself to be imperfect, especially around the holidays. It’s okay to host a gathering that doesn’t consist of a gourmet homecooked meal. Your nieces and nephews don’t need very expensive presents.  Remove some of the stress by lowering your own expectations. You’ll enjoy the holiday more, and you won’t feel as stressed and anxious about it. You might find out that no one was expecting you to be perfect after all.

3) It’s Okay To Say “No”

Sometimes it’s hard to say “no” to things this time of year. Your coworkers want you to bake cookies for the holiday party, you feel the need to attend every holiday party that you’re invited to, and you might even end up doing things that you never wanted to do, simply because you get caught up in the “holiday spirit.” However, it’s okay to say “no,” especially when you’re experiencing extreme anxiety. If you find yourself worrying about how you’re going to get everything done, then go back and retroactively turn some holiday things down. Here at the Anxiety Center of Houston, we understand your need to be “everything” during the holidays – but you don’t need to be that person. Give yourself a break and say “no.”

4) Plan Ahead When Traveling

Understanding and Managing Holiday AnxietyTraveling during the holiday season can be extremely stressful for those who don’t suffer from anxiety, but those simple trips can be ten times worse for people with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, and even Social Anxiety. The therapists at the Anxiety Center of Houston recommend that make some plans when you need to travel. It helps to memorize every detail of your trip, from the flight information to the arrival times, before you leave the house. This calms your anxiety, as you’ll feel as though everything has been taken care of. On top of this, bring along a number of things to occupy you on the plane.

If you have GAD, then you probably already know that the busier you are, the less anxious you’ll feel. This is particularly true while flying. No matter what, do not rely on things like drugs and alcohol to help through your flight. They can be habit forming and may even make your anxiety worse according to the experts here at the Anxiety Center of Houston. In addition to the other tips listed here, see if you can meet the pilots before your flight begins. Talking with them may help you feel better, especially once you hear about how much experience they have on the job.

5) Take Some Time to Yourself

We at the Anxiety Center of Houston understand that you probably want to maximize your family time during the holiday season. After all, this is the one time of the year where people tend to see their loved ones the most. With that said, you also need to spend some time on self-care. This involves being alone and doing something soothing that you love, such as doing arts and crafts, reading, or even watching cheesy holiday movies. No matter what, you need this alone time to recharge and reset your anxious brain. Everything that you’ve heard about self-care is absolutely true, including the fact that it can lower anxiety and make you feel better about yourself. Don’t get swept up in the wave of the holidays without scheduling some quiet time.

Being part of a support group for anxiety can help individuals who are struggling with mental health issues feel less isolated and alone. By meeting with others who have similar experiences, individuals can build a sense of community and belonging, which can help to boost their self-esteem and improve their overall mental health.

If you’re suffering from extreme holiday anxiety – or just more anxiety than usual, thanks to the holiday season, please give the Anxiety Center of Houston a call. You can reach us at (832) 413-2410 or by filling out the form on our website. Don’t let your anxiety get in the way of your holiday enjoyment – not when there is a very valid solution. No matter your form of anxiety, we can help.

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