Holiday seasons brings a lot of challenges for individuals suffering from anxiety. From minor plannings to major parties, the whole festive mood can induce a lot of unwanted anxiety.
The major holiday season is waiting poised for all to celebrate and get together with family. People are already refilling their polaroids for a new set of family pictures for their walls. However, people with anxiety have a totally different set of feelings and emotions towards this upcoming hectic time of the year.
According to the official website of Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 40 million adults suffer from various forms of anxiety. And if you look at the holiday season and everything that comes with it with most of them already worrying about the tree, or the menu, or the party decorations, etc.
A lot of this stems from the multitudes of expectations that we think people hold from us and what everyone is doing. And a lot of the times people suffering from anxiety tend to feel that if they don't overcome their problems, people will find them really rude, and they end up being more anxious about that.
“Our expectations of the holidays are often that if we don’t do these certain kinds of things, then bad things are going to happen,” says David Austern, a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health.
While some of you out there are struggling to get by their thinking traps - thinking that everything is going to be bad, and feeling that nobody is going to like you, here are some of the ways you can help yourself this holiday season, while keeping your anxiety in check:
We know that it is going to be difficult to let go of the ideas and expectations that you've been holding on to for this season. However, it is necessary to have a balanced approach to the things that you want people to do and there is only a certain level of control you can exercise over others' behaviors. So if you only keep in your mind that not everything is going to be as you planned, it can give you a lot of relief and a break from the pressure that you've been under.
A lot of the anxiety triggering situations might arise when you think that a lot of people are watching the things you do and are judging you. When you feel like that, just remember that they are also thinking about what you feel about them. One of the easiest ways to deal with this is to pay them a compliment or say something nice to them. It'll help you ease out a bit as well.
Given the tendency of the holiday seasons to intensify the existing worries that you may have, it is possible to get tempted to try and escape it all using drugs or alcohol. Even when you really feel like it 'takes the edge off', don't indulge in the substances. Since it is likely that they might just worsen the anxiety and might lead to a panic attack.
It is possible that when the family has gotten together, some of the old bitter memories might get rehashed in your mind. We all know it is in the past, but we can't help thinking things like "Mommy always loved her more" or "She had not paid enough attention to me". Since this is a time to do something fresh, think to yourself how you can make a difference by letting the things of the past just be in the past and not affect your present time with the family.
A lot of the times, you might end up building up a lot of anxiety by just over-thinking about what your in-laws said to you or what your cousin noticed about your house. It is likely that you might assume meanings in conversations that might not be there at all. Avoid churning out self-generated meanings to conversations that you've had, and you'll be able to have a more present and happy holiday season
Since the end of the year might just awaken a spirit of reconciliation in you, and you want to give your time to all of those who care about you and who ask for it, don't overload yourself with a list of places to be. If you keep feeling obligated to be with every group of people that you are associated with, you are going to get more and more stressed when you realize that you don't want to go to everyone. There are some people that cause us stress, so it is better to not keep yourself occupied too much.