How to survive the holidays if you have anxiety

  • Self-Care Self-Care Self-Care

I can’t stress this enough.  During times of heightened stress, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself. If you’re traveling or you have company coming over, you’re not likely to be finding yourself with much alone time, so it’s important to make a self-care game plan early.

During those times that you can sneak away, even if it’s just to go to the bathroom, bring a song, a quote, an essential oil, chocolate, whatever you find really calms you down and seriously, I know it sounds weird, but bring it with you! Yes, even in the bathroom! My parents probably think I have diabetes from all the times I go to the bathroom at their house but I’m usually just looking at stuff on my phone. Sometimes you need to grab a few seconds to just put yourself back together.

  • Do not feel guilty for taking time for yourself

If you’re able to take more time to practice self-care, make it a priority and do not feel guilty!! You might feel like you have to spend every waking moment with your loved ones, especially if you don’t see them very often, but you won’t be at your best if you’re feeling tapped out.

Depending on the people you are surrounded with, you could very well get pushback. Don’t let this get to you! It might take a lot on your part to not give in and just remain social so that others aren’t upset, but really try hard to listen to your inner voice and focus on that. You can do it, I promise.

  • Set boundaries

If there are delicate subjects that you are concerned about coming up (cough, politics, cough) it can be supremely helpful to set boundaries before you see your loved ones. Take it from someone who has recently done this, it can be super-duper scary to send that text or make that phone call, but it can also be insanely liberating. Here’s what setting a boundary does:

  1. It shows your loved ones that you love them and do not want to engage in anything that will result in an intense argument. Expressing that you want to focus on the positive and just enjoy each other’s company is a great way to set the boundary.
  2. You’ve drawn a line, which means if someone crosses it, you now have a reason to discuss what you will not put up with. Before you set the boundary, you haven’t clearly stated what you do not want to discuss, and so others might not have any idea how much it bothers you. But after you set the boundary, you have every right to confront anyone who crosses that and remind them that they agreed not to cross that line.
  3. You’ve expressed yourself, which is always a good thing!

Boundaries can also include setting time limits! Don’t be afraid to tell people or decide ahead of time how long you are planning to stay at their home so that you don’t get sucked into staying way longer than you feel comfortable!

  • Focus on what you love

If you find your anxiety levels rising and you start going to the bad place (hello, catastrophizing!) try to focus on what you love about your loved ones, the holiday itself, traditions, the food, etc. Even with all the stress you most likely truly love your family and are happy to see them so focus on that! Family won’t be there forever and it’s easy to focus on the negative but sometimes it’s okay to push past that to be with the people we love.

After all, this is supposed to be a positive time of year, though it is not always that way for many people, you have power over your negative thoughts to try and bring yourself to a relaxed state of mind. And if you are really in a bad spot and things are just terrible for you, the only advice I can give is to reach out to get help. You don’t have to go through a rough spot alone, especially this time of year.

I hope my incredibly unqualified advice gave you something helpful if you are dealing with anxiety this time of year! Please take care of yourself and have a happy holiday!

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Take care of yourselves, ~Suzi

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