Holiday Anxieties


Noises from Inside the Anxiety Closet: The Holidays are here!

Christmas! New Years! Hanukkah! Kwanza!

Holidays are supposed to be many things: fun, family, warmth, togetherness, celebration.  Everyone who is living a Hallmark commercial like this, raise your hands.  Not so many. Not meeting our expectations? Another let down?

The holidays can be troublesome: frustrations erupt, tempers flare, feelings of sadness and being alone in this misery.  Comparisons in our anxious minds about all the perfect picture postcard families with whom we compare ourselves. Mental energy goes into overdrive: so many “shoulds:” shopping cleaning, cooking, hosting duties.  Or the opposite – insensitive family members, family conflict, or being alone.

What Can You Do to Help Yourself?

– not just survive the season – but actually enjoy it?    Even if just a bit.  Start here: reflect on giving yourself permission to adjust and adapt according to your needs.   (If it seems impossible that you can choose to make your needs a priority, then consider it’s not just the holiday stress; it’s a life satisfaction concern.)

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If you have suffered a loss or are separated from loved ones, feeling sad and grieving is normal, to be expected. Take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force happiness.
  2. Don’t micromanage anything or anyone. You have the right to say no to anything that will take the joy out of the season for you.  Allow yourself to respectfully decline invitations for uncomfortable situations.  Create new traditions that bring you joy. Protect your own peace of mind during the season of peace. You are entitled to peace.
  3. Instead of being overwhelmed by what seems to be lacking in your life, ask yourself, “What do I have right now?” We tend to worry about the future and neglect appreciation of the moment. Reflect on the food you are eating, a good friend or family member you appreciate, and the small comforts in your life.  Shift the way you look at things.
  4. See family members for who they are, not as they “should” be. You can’t control others. You can learn to control yourself. Choose your reaction or choose to let it go.  Who says you have to spend all day with your family when you can only tolerate two hours with them.   Call a truce on your differences for today.    There are actually few families in which everyone gets along with no friction between some members.
  5. Be realistic. Families do change and do grow. Traditions and rituals need to accommodate those changes. Hold on to the ones that make sense for you, and consider creating new ones. Find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. Bring the family together to celebrate at a less intense and stressful time.
  6. Reach out. Focus on what you can do and who you know that would appreciate your attention. Volunteering your time to help others is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships

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