The holiday season brings a lot of things — freezing temperatures, thoughtful gifts and sometimes, stressful moments. For others, holidays could mean high expectations or financial strain, which may trigger feelings of fear and anxiety.
If you are experiencing this, know that you’re not alone. Discover actionable strategies on how to deal with holiday anxiety.
Why Do Holidays Cause Stress?
The holiday season is a time for gatherings and celebrations with friends and family. But for some people, social occasions can trigger feelings of stress, sadness and nervousness.
During these days, others feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of buying gifts, making time for loved ones and more errands. It’s as if the list never stops, which renders the brain into overdrive. Moreover, the societal pressures to have a “holly jolly Christmas” can bring negative consequences through increased feelings of stress and guilt.
Many factors can influence holiday anxiety, but one thing’s for sure — what you’re feeling is valid.
Signs of Holiday Anxiety
It’s essential to know how to spot if you or a loved one is dealing with anxiety. Here are some signs, though it’s worth noting that symptoms can vary from person to person.
- Concentration problems
- Sleeping issues
- Uncontrollable feelings of fear and worry
- Increased irritability
At some point, you might experience these things in life. However, these signs are more pronounced for someone who is dealing with holiday anxiety.
How to Deal with Holiday Anxiety
Amid the stress, demands and responsibilities, being in tune with your emotions and taking action is essential. Holidays might stress you out, but there are ways you can do to help lessen the mental burden.
- Learn How to Say “No”
This may sound easier said than done, but it’s possible. The holiday season is the busiest time of the year. Invites and responsibilities may flood your way and overwhelm you. At the same time, this month is also a great time to learn how to set boundaries.
Take a breather to reflect on what matters to you. With limited energy, money and time, it’s essential to allocate these to the things and people you love.
Refuse to accept invitations and obligations only because you feel you should. Instead, decline gracefully — a short and sweet “I’m unable to attend the party, thanks for inviting me” can do the trick.
- Get a Time off From Work
The hustle culture has taught people to do everything except get proper rest. The truth is that downtime is crucial to prevent stress and burnout. Refrain from answering an email while strolling in the mall with your family. Learn to disconnect from the world to connect with what truly matters to you.
Sometimes, people like to multitask, but humans have limited cognitive capacity, especially people dealing with anxiety. Always remember that juggling work duties and personal time can decrease your productivity.
- Stay Active
The winter holiday offers a great opportunity to curl up on the bed and skip exercise. With freezing temperatures and limited sunlight, it can be challenging to maintain an exercise routine. Try out low-maintenance ways to keep yourself active. Yoga unites the benefits of deep breathing with physical movement, contributing to lower anxiety levels after a tiring day.
If you’re staying with your family, suggest taking morning walks or playing sports together. If you’d rather spend time alone, jog around the neighborhood while listening to your favorite music. It helps you get in the zone and make exercising more enjoyable.
- Be Active in Your Community
A community can help foster a sense of connection to others, helping you feel appreciated, accepted and supported. Engaging in communal activities is an avenue to new friendships, which can temporarily distract you from your worries this holiday season.
Find communities via family and friends. One way to discover like-minded people is through buying and supporting local businesses in your community. Supporting local suppliers, such as farmers, can help promote a sustainable and safer environment, which helps protect the future for everyone.
When you support a cause, you feel good about it. Knowing that you’re helping others is empowering and can make you feel fulfilled.
- Make Time for Self-Care
Dealing with holiday anxiety and responsibilities can quickly dampen your holiday spirit. Make time for yourself amid the never-ending list of errands and scheduled parties. This holiday, people are so focused on giving to others that they forget their own needs.
Pamper yourself with a spa treatment. Indulge in your favorite food. Clear all the melatonin-interrupting electronic devices out of your bedroom so you wake up without distractions and enjoy quality sleep.
There are endless ways to treat yourself to a good time, so make time for yourself.
- Practice Gratitude
Actively practicing gratitude can help manage stress and winter blues. You can start by maintaining a journal where you write down everything you’re grateful for — it can be as simple as appreciating your morning hot chocolate or the presence of your loved ones.
When it becomes a habit, it’s easier to notice the beautiful things you may typically overlook in life. It helps maintain a positive mindset in the long run, which can help bouts of anxiety and stress.
- Reconnect With Long-Distance Friends
Humans are social beings, so it’s normal for you to crave companionship, especially when you’re dealing with anxiety this holiday season. Reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Even something as simple as a short text message telling your colleague you’re thinking of them can rekindle an old friendship.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
If you’re dealing with anxiety, know that there are simple ways you can implement to make the holiday season more bearable and enjoyable. You got this!
Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, healthy living, and anything food-related. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and recipes.