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The holidays are almost upon us again and so is the stress that inevitably comes with them! Are you a person with anxiety who, every year, thinks “How am I going to survive the holidays…again??” I am with you!! Holidays can be tough on anyone! But when you have anxiety, it can be mentally devastating. This is compounded when you are the one hosting for the holidays!! You have to not only deal with the “normal” anxiety that comes with being in a large group of people but when you are hosting you have all the logistics to deal with as well. But there IS a way to survive the holidays without going into a full blown panic attack!!!
5 Ways to Survive the Holidays for the Person With Anxiety
1. Ask for help!!!
Don’t feel like, just because you are hosting, that you have to do it all yourself. Make it a potluck style dinner. Ask everyone to bring a dish. If you can afford to, have it catered! This will help free up some time for you to focus on other things! If you have children who are old enough, ask them to help! If they are at an age where they can cook or bake, ask them to take on a task in the kitchen. If they can push a vacuum, give them one! Ask your spouse for help! I can tell you from experience…when there is a gathering and we are stressed and busy, our husbands try not to make things worse for us. Many times, men just don’t want to get in the way and stress us out even more. Give him permission to step in and help out. When you ask people to help, whether with food or anything else, assign those tasks so there is no confusion. Using spreadsheets in a Facebook event is a great way to manage logistics like who is bringing what! Have that as a sign-up sheet. And you can even ask someone else to manage that spreadsheet for you (might be a good job for hubby!)…put the types of food you need on the sheet and let people sign up for what they want to bring. Add the spreadsheet to google docs and post in a Facebook event that you can add your guests to! Here is a spreadsheet you can use!
2. Give yourself permission to walk away
I know you think it might look rude but sometimes we get overwhelmed in large groups. I know this is the case where I am concerned! Taking a few minutes to breathe alone in your room or outside can help recharge you. All you have to do is say excuse me, I have to step away for a few minutes. And go to your room and pray or just sit in God’s presence. You will find it will revive you! Sometimes long one-on-one conversations can be very taxing when you have anxiety. I can talk to 20 people for 5 minutes each but I have a hard time talking to one person for 20 minutes! Ask your spouse to keep an eye out for times you might need to be “rescued” from Aunt Mary who likes to corner you for an hour! Have a code word for when you need him, or your kids, to rescue you from a never-ending story! [click_to_tweet tweet=”Sometimes long one-on-one conversations can be very taxing when you have anxiety. I can talk to 20 people for 5 minutes each but I have a hard time talking to one person for 20 minutes! #anxiety” quote=”Sometimes long one-on-one conversations can be very taxing when you have anxiety. I can talk to 20 people for 5 minutes each but I have a hard time talking to one person for 20 minutes!” theme=”style1″]
3. Just say “No”
Don’t feel like you have to do everything! If someone asks you to host Christmas dinner at your house and you feel it will be too much, say no! Don’t feel obligated to take on something that you cannot handle. If you’re asked to make a dish that you KNOW is going to be too much with all you have on your plate (no pun intended!) then say NO! It doesn’t matter how much everyone loves your Roast Beast! Saying “no” is the best way to manage stress and reduce anxiety. You don’t owe anyone anything, especially when it comes to your mental health. So kindly explain you just cannot do it but you’d be happy to do “fill in the blank” instead! Manage expectations when you DO agree to something. Don’t allow yourself to get roped into more than you agreed to. Kindly and politely explain you can only do so much!
4. Planning ahead of time
Nothing affects my anxiety more than procrastinating or “winging it”. Get a plan and work that plan. If you assign tasks to other people, I will share with you a statement my old boss always used to tell me….”Inspect what you expect”. Don’t assume people (especially kids) are doing what you asked. Check in with them (or have your husband do it) and make sure everything is going according to plan. The last thing you want is to find out at the last minute that someone who was supposed to do something didn’t! Get a planner!! They have some amazing planners out there and I LOVE the ones by Erin Condren [click_to_tweet tweet=”Inspect what you expect! #holidaysurvival #anxiety” quote=”Inspect what you expect!” theme=”style1″]
5. Leave the guilt behind – not everyone is focused on you!
Sometimes holiday invites can pile up. You might get stressed out thinking you have to go to every party! You don’t! But if you do go, feel the freedom to make an appearance and then dip out when you have had enough. When you accept the invite, explain you would love to come but cannot stay long. Stop in, say hello, and then give yourself permission to leave. It can also help when you have more than one place to be in one night. No need to feel like you have to let someone down. Stop in and say hi…and then excuse yourself. We sometimes think people are really focused on how long we stayed or who we talked to but they are not! They are busy talking or focusing on ALL their guests. We often believe that everyone notices everything we do. They don’t. So stop feeling guilty if you don’t do everything you THINK people expect of you. The only person expecting those things is you! So let it go! [click_to_tweet tweet=”We sometimes think people are really focused on how long we stayed or who we talked to but they are not! #anxiety #guilt #holidaysurvival” quote=”We sometimes think people are really focused on how long we stayed or who we talked to but they are not! ” theme=”style1″]
The Best Advice
At the end of the day, the best advice I can give you for dealing with the holidays is “be easy on yourself”! No one is expecting perfection from you but you! Give yourself permission to be less than perfect!! Give yourself permission to decline! Give yourself permission to leave early! Give yourself permission to walk away from taxing conversations! Give yourself permission to do things on a smaller scale!! Give yourself permission to be a little more Mary and a little less Martha! Relax, enjoy the process! Enjoy your family and fellowship! Give yourself permission to take care of YOU! Luke 10:41-42:
“Martha,Martha,” the Lord replied, “you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.”
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