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Fear and Anxiety

Surviving the Holidays When You Have Anxiety – 5 Methods to Get You Through!

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The holidays are almost upon us again and so is the stress that inevitably comes with them!  While the holidays might look different this year, gatherings will undoubtedly still be happening even if in smaller scale. If you’re a person with anxiety, you may be wondering how to go about surviving the holidays in the midst of a pandemic and political discord!

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 group of people but when you are hosting you have all the logistics to deal with as well. But there are ways to help you in surviving the holidays without going into a full blown panic attack!!! So read on!

an image of a family gathered around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and a text overlay that says Surviving the Holidays When You Have Anxiety

Surviving the Holidays for the Person With Anxiety – 5 Ways!

1. Surviving the holidays starts with asking 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! I have a great Excel sheet you can use! Just enter your name and email and I will deliver it right to your inbox!

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! 

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 Click To Tweet

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!  

Pink background with images of tablets and a workbook from - Sunshyne Gray - How to Stop Feeling Anxious (Workbook and Video)

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! I also offer a FREE Personal Planner that you can download and use for all your planning needs! Just enter your name and email and I will deliver it right to your inbox as my gift to you!

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 for a bit 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!  

We sometimes think people are really focused on how long we stayed or who we talked to but they are not!  #anxiety #guilt #holidaysurvival Click To Tweet

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 as much as you can safely during these times!  Above all, give yourself permission to take care of YOU!

Luke 10:41-42:

“…but only one thing is necessary. For Miriam has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

TLV
Pink background with images of tablets and a workbook from - Sunshyne Gray - How to Stop Feeling Anxious (Workbook and Video)

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Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society.  Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.

46 Comments

  1. Hello Diane, and thank you for sharing this post. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I appreciated reading it, and will certainly take this on board in the coming months. All the best for your holidays!

    1. Thank you so much Alexandra! I know when it comes to anxiety the one thing that makes it worse is how hard we tend to be on ourselves!! All the best to you as well!

  2. These are great tips. It’s so easy as women to overpromise ourselves and overextend ourselves. We feel like we have to be everything to everybody. I am so much of a Martha when I just need to be a Mary.

    1. Yes! We as women do this so often! We really do have to learn to relax more and enjoy the time rather than feeling the pressure to please everyone! Thank you!

  3. I’ve always struggled so much with anxiety. Hosting is exhausting for me, but once I get through it and the party is over… I’m always so so happy that I did it. This was wonderful!

    1. Thank you Kayla! Yes there definitely is a great feeling of accomplishment afterwards. I just wish we could enjoy the process more and be easier on ourselves!!

  4. I don’t suffer from acute anxiety, but as an introvert, I can see how these tips would apply to me as well. Thank you for thinking all this through so well–and in plenty of time!

  5. This is such a thoughtful article! The holidays surely are overwhelming, especially with anxiety….and a large boisterous family! I am an overplanner so that helps and I’m learning to say NO more often. Every little sanity saver helps. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    1. Being a planner definitely helps!! People with anxiety often aren’t planners because we tend to feel overwhelmed just looking at a to-do list!! LOL

  6. Great advice for the Holidays or any time of year – be easy on yourself. The Holidays have become a stressful time for me ever since my mom died 2 days before Christmas several years ago. Now I associate that time of year with her death, rather than the celebrations going on around me. I have got to get over that, I know!

    1. I am so sorry Laurie. My mom passed a couple of years ago as well so I know how difficult it can be. I am sure it is even more so when it is right before the holidays. My heart goes out to you!

  7. This was such a comforting post to read. I suffer from anxiety and this was nice to read this and see that there are some ways to help combat it around the holidays!

    1. Thank you Megan! I am so glad you found it helpful!! I am going to be doing more posts in the coming weeks on anxiety!

  8. The holidays can certainly bring a lot of anxiety on whether that’s a normal issue or not. These are great tips and I’ll be using them for sure!

  9. Good word, great tips. It’s so easy to wind tight over holiday celebrations, get-togethers, and gifting. Gosh, I need to take a deep breath just thinking about it! 🙂 Makes me super thankful for Jesus and the peace we find in Him.

  10. The holidays can turn into a stressful time…… for anyone. I love that your first tip is to ask for help. For some reason our society frowns on asking for help, which should be the most natural thing if you need it. Great tips!!!

  11. I never thought about coming up with a code word! This is something I think I definitely need to implement with the hubby this year, especially because we are so opposite in these situations (i.e. he’s clueless lol)

    1. Lol and that’s the thing…many times they don’t recognize it! My husband is great at stepping in when someone has me too long but sometimes he gets caught up in conversation as well and may not notice so a code word definitely helps!!

  12. My rule for myself is holidays are supposed to be fun. So I do say no to hosting and anything that is not fun! WE pick and choose what we want and how we want to celebrate each holiday.

    1. That’s awesome! I know a couple who goes on a cruise every other year over the holidays just to have a peaceful time now and then lol.

    1. I am glad you found it helpful Tonya! A lot of people with anxiety (or those who are just introverts) cannot tolerate groups of people. It is very hard on us.

  13. I love this and I think these are great tips. I always try to “prove myself” and do it all alone, but then I end up burnt out. I have high anxiety so these are very helpful and a great reminder!

    1. So glad you found it helpful Kelsey! Yep I fall into the perfectionist trap a lot as well. I am most competitive with myself!

  14. Great tips! I learned a lot of what NOT to do last holiday season. I had a sobbing meltdown in a store when I couldn’t get the employee to understand that I needed assistance and not a wave in a general direction. One understanding store manager, a long conversation with my family, sharing my responsibilities, and taking some much needed down time made all the difference.

  15. Love the concept that people are not thinking about me or analyzing what I’m doing / not doing as much as I am. That could have a huge impact on my holidays! Good advice on all points!

  16. Thank you so much for this! I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed lately, and have trouble saying “no”. I need to be more concerned with sitting at Jesus’ feet (like Mary) than fulfilling all of the things I think other people require of me.

    1. Oh I can relate! I have always had a tough time saying no. I am getting much better at it now but it is still tough!! Isn’t it funny how we are so worried about what people require of us??

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