The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy, laughter, and togetherness. However, for many, it can also be a source of unexpected stress and anxiety. While some stressors are expected, certain things inadvertently contribute to heightened holiday tension. Let’s unwrap some surprising culprits that sneak into the festive season, casting shadows on what should be a time of joy and celebration.
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Things That Increase Holiday Anxiety
It can be depressing and frustrating to feel anxious during a time of year when society tells us all we should be feeling happiness and joy. Many people experience anxious feelings around the holidays as routines change, family members visit, and the stress of the season becomes overwhelming. There are several common culprits of holiday anxiety–avoiding these triggers can help you find greater enjoyment this holiday season.
- Gift-giving pressure. While thoughtful and heartwarming, the tradition of gift-giving can morph into a stressful experience. Choosing the perfect gift, staying within budget, and the fear of disappointing loved ones can turn a joyous activity into a nerve-wracking ordeal.
- Overcommitting to events. The holiday season often brings a flurry of invitations to parties, gatherings, and events. Overcommitting to a packed schedule can leave little time for self-care, relaxation, and quality time with loved ones, amplifying stress levels.
- Unrealistic expectations. Expecting every moment to be filled with warmth and happiness may set the bar too high. The reality of family dynamics, unforeseen mishaps, or even unfavorable weather can lead to disappointment when expectations don't align with reality.
- Financial strain. The financial burden of holiday expenses, including gifts, travel, and festive meals, can cause significant stress. Striking a balance between creating memorable experiences and maintaining financial well-being becomes crucial.
- Family dynamics. While family gatherings are a hallmark of the holidays, navigating complex family dynamics can be challenging. Unresolved issues or differences in opinions can escalate tension, overshadowing the joyous spirit of the season.
- Last-minute rush. Procrastination in holiday preparations, whether it's shopping, wrapping gifts, or planning meals, can lead to a chaotic last-minute rush. The pressure of completing tasks under tight deadlines can elevate stress levels unnecessarily.
How to Decrease Holiday Anxiety
Understanding anxiety triggers to avoid can and following these three simple steps can help you significantly decrease any unwanted holiday anxiety.
- Create a clear, detailed list. Holiday anxiety is decreased when you create a clear, detailed list of what you will be doing to prepare for the holidays and your holiday program and then follow to it as best you can.
- Follow your plan. Even though predictability is difficult during the holiday season, try to follow your plan to maintain a schedule and predictability as much as you can during this time.
- Veer off your list when necessary. Veering off your list by deciding to cook one more dish, buy one more present, or just go shopping one more time to find the perfect accessory to add to your outfit will likely only create anxiety.
Overcoming Holiday Anxiety
You are not alone if you are experiencing anxiety as the holiday season approaches. Many people do not get enough downtime, overschedule their lives, or expect things to be perfect. The reality is that life, kids, family members, and the holiday season in general will never be perfect. Try your best to make a plan and stick to it, scheduling self-care breaks along the way so that you can maintain a leveled state of mind amid the hecticness of the season.
Recognizing and addressing these unexpected sources of holiday anxiety is essential for reclaiming the true essence of the season. By setting realistic expectations, prioritizing self-care, and focusing on meaningful connections, you and your family can unwrap a more joyous and fulfilling holiday experience.The beauty of BLOOM and our online support is that it enhances your existing therapy plan. It is ideally used in combination with 1-on-1 therapies, allowing you the opportunity to integrate therapy at home with the whole family involved. Discover our course, Anxiety, as you look to overcome the anxious feelings of the season ahead.