Dealing with Anxiety During the Holidays


While society tells us we should be feeling full of joy in this holiday season, many of us feel quite the opposite. Anxiety can make this time of year particularly challenging. Even things we are excited about, such as hosting family and friends, can bring about anxiety in addition to cheer.

Common holiday stressors include:

Finances: Buying gifts, paying for flights and holiday accommodation, or paying for the food and drinks for Christmas lunch can be expensive. Many people experience financial strain during the holiday season which can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.

Hosting: Putting together a Christmas dinner or having family visit over the holidays can be time consuming and put us under a lot of added pressure. Entertaining is a one of the most common stressors.

Parties: For those with social anxiety, Christmas and New Years parties can be particularly anxiety inducing. This can lead to avoidance and missing out on the fun of special occasions.

Time: Festivities and Christmas shopping can put a strain on our time. There is so much to do and so many people to see it can be difficult to do so without experiencing some level of anxiety. This can be particularly tough for parents who have school holidays activities to plan to keep the kids entertained.

No matter what part of the holidays seems to be the cause of your feelings of anxiety there are strategies to help you cope:

Be Aware: The first step in combating anxiety is recognising it. Check in on your stress levels and what you body is telling you. Watch out for tension, a rapid heart rate or shortness of breath.

Relax: You don’t need to have a long bath or a massage to relax (though both of these things help). Relaxing can be as simple as stopping to take a few deep breaths or listening to soothing music to help calm down when we feel overwhelmed.

Practice Mindfulness: 2 minutes of mindfulness is better than none at all. Even if you are busy with the holiday hustle and bustle, try to drip feed mindfulness between running from one thing to the next.

Take the Pressure off of Yourself: The holidays are particularly trying for perfectionists. If you set high expectations for yourself, such as preparing Christmas dinner, you may feel more anxious leading up to the event and depressed afterwards. Understand that things may not go exactly as you had planned and be prepared to accept it when they don’t.

Don’t Forget About Yourself: While the holiday season is about giving to others it is important to remember to give your body enough sleep, a healthy diet and exercise.

Connect: Christmas and the holidays are all about spending time with family and friends. Connecting with people stimulates dopamine in our brains, so those connections are very important to our sense of wellbeing.

While the holidays may be putting you on edge or leaving you feeling blue, rest assured you are not the only one. These strategies are tried and tested to help you to combat anxiety and get into the holiday spirit.