Surviving The Holidays Despite Anxiety
Now that winter is here, so are the traditional holidays. Even if you don’t follow any particular tradition, it’s common to gather together with family, have some big meals, and exchange gifts.
For some people, the holidays also mean fights with family, feeling lonely, and being anxious about it all. If you’re hosting, the anxiety can increase as you worry about cooking, cleaning, and finding room for everybody. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to control your anxiety and enjoy the holidays this year. Just know it’s not you — there are legitimate reasons why people feel more anxious around the holiday season.
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Why Anxiety Gets Worse
Is there something about family gatherings and the winter holidays that makes anxiety worse? Popular Science says yes, and that’s because you often have expectations. Holiday movies and looking at the past with rose-colored glasses can give you an unrealistic expectation of how things should go: Everyone gets along, food and gifts are plentiful, and people travel all kinds of distances to be together.
But in reality, those rarely happen. People can argue, money can be tight, and many cannot travel for several reasons. When your expectations are not met, it makes you feel sad and anxious. You start to wonder what’s wrong with you and your family even though some problems are to be expected.
For some, the problem is less the family and more the traveling. From a fear of flying to worrying about directions, it makes sense to be anxious at this time of year because travel is stressful.
Focus On Holiday Fun
Even if the holiday anxiety is normal, it’s still not fun. That’s why you should take some steps this holiday season to focus on having fun. The Bustle has several great recommendations for enjoying the holidays. Make sure you take care of your physical needs (sleep, diet, etc.), especially if you get a cold. Understand that you cannot do everything and that it’s perfectly fine to say no, even at this time of year.
And if you find yourself sitting around and getting anxious, go and do something fun. Shopping, games, or just catching a movie can give you something positive to focus on. They also help give your mind and body a break from stress.
Remember that holidays should be a group effort. If you’re hosting, don’t try to make the big holiday meal all by yourself. Get some help from your family, even if that means they bring a cold dish you can heat up in the microwave. If you’re feeling blue, talk to people about your feelings so they know there’s a problem. Your support network cannot help if they don’t know they’re needed.
If Addiction Is A Problem
The holidays can be a stressful time, but for those in addiction recovery, it gets harder. That’s because many people serve a lot of alcohol at these gatherings and parties. If you have worked hard to become sober, don’t let holiday anxiety get to you. Instead, DrugRehab.org recommends you plan on how to say no.
Literally practicing how to decline a drink can make it much easier to do so. (Some people will offer you a drink without realizing you’re sober these days.) You should also be prepared to explain why you’re not drinking in a way that’s comfortable for you.
Beat Those Holiday Blues
This time of year should be fun and relaxing. However, it’s normal to face stress, sadness, and anxiety around the holidays. Protect your physical health, say no when you have to, and get help from friends and family when you need to. And if you’re in addiction recovery, practice how to decline a drink. These tips can help you create great memories this holiday season.
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