The holiday season is, for the most part, so much fun. Who doesn’t love food and days off from work? Nothing but good times, right? Eh, that’s not always the case for everyone. For people with anxiety, the holidays can be nothing but one long, low-key panic attack. It can ruin all of the fun. Luckily, there are things you can do right now to combat holiday anxiety and make the whole season just a little more relaxed. If you prepare for your anxiety and potential breakdowns now, you might actually be able to sit back and enjoy the whole season this year.
You might even finally see some of the merry everyone else is always talking about.
It makes complete sense that your anxiety would spike during the holidays — it’s like a magic combination of all the things that stress you out on the daily. Your calendar is booked with events and parties and decorating “chores.” (Or worse, it’s not booked at all with anything.) You’re spending money like there’s no tomorrow, and for many people, family is involved. Even the healthiest families have *stuff* that can send you running for your childhood bedroom and burying yourself in the covers. We’ve all been there.
But it doesn’t have to be totally miserable! Here are some things you can do to ease your holiday anxiety and see that it’s not just a two month long to-do list.
1Start planning your holiday travel now.
You don’t have to go crazy and book your tickets just yet if you can’t handle it. But you should start thinking about what you want to do as soon as possible. The sooner you know that you’re going to meet your S.O.’s parents over Thanksgiving, the sooner you can start to breathe into all of that. Or tell your parents that you’re going to Bali for all of December (even if you’re really just staying home and watching Netflix). Whatever your thing is, if you need to travel for the holidays getting ahead of it will make it easier.
2Start the whole thing early.
If you do gifts around the holidays, make your list about who to buy for and start now. Seriously. The stores are just regular crowded in October and early November, but become total nightmares the minute Thanksgiving is over. The next time you’re perusing the sale rack, don’t get yet another fall cardigan. Instead, go for that hella cute party dress that you can rock at your work party and your BFFs annual shindig. Not only are you giving yourself something to look forward to, you just took one stressful, last-minute errand off your list. Think about all of your holiday traditions now and start to think about what you can take care of early.
3Make a plan for the rough moments you might encounter.
The best cure for anxiety is to have a plan, right? It really helps! The holidays are rife with disaster. So if you’re worried about your racist uncle over the dinner, make a plan about how to deal with him so you have a canned response or something. If you normally start crying in the middle of a department store somewhere around December 15th, pledge to find better ways to get your shopping done, like ordering stuff, including Thanksgiving day groceries, online.
What are you going to do when you’re invited to yet another party you don’t have time for but hate letting hosts down? Really get serious about opening up your journal or whatever and planning your attack.
4Set up fun stuff now.
Instead of stressing about presents for your friend group, see if everyone wants to start a low-maintenance holiday fund for a charity or something this year and everyone throws in $10. Sign up to volunteer with your squad or alone. Make a mani-pedi appointment or sign up for some other self-care reward now for later when things are going to be really crazy. Schedule a legit holiday brunch with your best friends to counter all the family time. Whatever is fun to you — make it happen.
5Remember that it’s OK to skip them.
Listen: In some extreme cases, you can just not *do* the holidays if it gets to be too hard. You can decide how much you want to participate in the holidays. If your family is killing your soul, you don’t have to go. If you know you always feel overextended, make a decision now about just how many parties you attend or who really needs presents or not. The holidays do not have to control you or your anxiety. You got this.