The holiday season is in full swing. Chrismas light on houses, menorahs out ready to be lit. If you have anxiety this time of the year can be difficult to navigate through. Here are some of the ways I have tried to keep my anxiety in check around the stressful time while still being able to enjoy the holidays. This took some time, during middle and high school the holidays were never my favorite things to endure. So many places to get to all in one day and lots of relatives touching me who I bearly knew. My freshman year was the last Christmas I spent with my mom since that was the year she moved down south so in high school it was a reminder more of what I didn’t have around than any gift I could possibly receive.
1.Don’t compare what you have to your friends, movies you watch or advertisements you see in the paper!
It wasn’t until I got to college and started to see my parents as flawed humans and stopped putting so much pressure on this family ideal that I thought I was supposed to have. I started to see the holidays as just another step of growing up and another part of the year instead of trying to compare my experiences to others. I took what I had and appreciated it more. I spoke to my mom on the phone or would call her over skype. I hugged my dad tight enough quietly hoping some of it would be felt by my mom. I would see my father’s parents and eat with them and then when they went home I would call my mother’s parents in California to recap the day I’d had.
2. Know your limits and don’t feel pressured to surpass them!
In school you have some days to recover if you overdo it for the holidays but once you grow up your expected to go back to work as soon as the holidays are over. This means if you drain all your energy or get yourself into a panic you still have to face the world the next day. It doesn’t do you/your guests/hosts any good if you end up getting overwhelmed in the middle of the party. If you are hosting understand that you can walk away to your room for a few moments to collect yourself and if you are outside of your home excuse yourself to the bathroom or outside for a moment. If you say you might only be able to stop by to give a gift and say high keep to that. For some just making an appearance at an event if a huge deal.
3. Understand that if you have to cancel its OK
If you are to overwhelmed from your family gatherings that you can’t make it to drinks with your friends that it’s okay to reschedule. Talk to your siblings to exchange gifts the following weekend, especially if you have kids they will get cranky getting carted from one family member to the next. See if you can split your holiday obligations over a few weeks instead of all between 2 days.
4. Congratulate yourself for surviving and treat yourself
To those who don’t suffer from mental illness, it may seem silly to treat yourself. “Arent the holidays supposed to be a treat?” It does not have to be a costly treat. You could go through your books and pick a few to donate to the local library or if you got new clothes pick a few to drop off at the donation center for someone who may not have gotten new things for the holidays. Run a bath or cook yourself your favorite meal. Give your closest friend a call and catch up when you get a breathe. This one can be done in your coziest sweats on your couch. Brew a tea, coffee or hot cocoa and have a sit-down with a film or your favorite video game.
5. Remember to enjoy yourself and feel the love
Eat your favorite treats and sing your favorite holiday songs. See your cousins you only see a few times a year. Drink that hot chocolate that extra expensive that you only get once a year. Warm up apple cider and drink it with a cinnamon stick.
I love you all and happy holidays!