Sammy Nickalls
December 20, 2015 6:00 am

All my life, I’ve been a huge fan of the holidays. I’d count down until Christmas, wearing my Santa socks all of December. I’d make Christmas cookies and buy gifts for people way earlier than everyone else. I was always that girl who drove everyone crazy by listening to Christmas music in the middle of November.

Another thing that has been a part of me all my life? Anxiety.

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, but even if you love December with all your heart and soul, it can still be really hard for someone with anxiety. Here’s what makes the season harder for people with anxiety that we wish we could do something about.

The dangerous weather conditions

Snow can be beautiful, and a White Christmas is always something that can be breathtakingly stunning. But many people with anxiety can’t help but fear for their loved ones during this time on these icy roads. Every time a friend or family member drives when there’s even a bit of snow on the roads, it can be truly difficult to think about much else until everyone is home safe. That’s why a lot of people with anxiety ask their loved ones to text them when they get home — especially during the wintertime.

The crowds and long lines

Crowds can be stressful for a lot of people, but it can be much harder for those with anxiety. We want to go out and get gifts for our loved ones, but it can be hard to navigate stores during the rush of holiday season when it’s so crowded, making things overwhelming and scary instead of fun and merry. Being surrounded by bustling people who can be a little aggressive when they’re doing their Christmas shopping? Not fun in general, but can be crippling for people who deal with anxiety on a day-to-day basis.

The pressure of buying the perfect gift

Christmas may not be about gifts, but it’s certainly a season filled with material things, and the pressure to find the perfect gift can be incredibly difficult for people with anxiety. This is why many of us will try braving the holiday crowds despite our apprehension; we want to give our loved ones exactly what they deserve and show them our appreciation — so much so that we forget that they loved us exactly how we are, sans gifts.

The constant holiday plans

Many of us do enjoy holiday parties, and we have a lot of fun. But during this time, there can be so many different holiday plans that it can be overwhelming, and we don’t want to miss out, but we also need time to recharge and let ourselves relax lest our anxiety get out of control.

The cripplingly long holiday to-do list

Many people with anxiety are already writing out list after list of things to do to keep their brain calm, but during the holidays, that list gets longer than ever. Presents to buy, gifts to wrap, holiday dishes to make. . . when our lives feel too busy, it can be hard to feel like we have control over our anxiety and spiraling thoughts.

The fear of not living in the present

This is something that can affect people with anxiety at any time — the constant pervasive thought that we’re worrying too much to ever be able to appreciate the moment right here, right now. But during the happiest time of the year, that worry gets even stronger. We notice all of these people running around having fun during the holidays, spending time with those they love, and we worry we’re not experiencing the holidays in the *right* way because of our anxiety.

But the truth is that there isn’t a right way, and that everyone experiences life differently. All we can do is take a deep breath and let those anxious feelings wash over us. We can’t fight them or make them evaporate into thin air, but we can recognize them, let them pass, and treat ourselves during this holiday season. . . because we totally deserve it.

(Image via New Line Cinema.)

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