Its no secret that once October rolls around I get on a holiday high. Yes, Halloween marks the start of the holiday season for me. Call me weird if you must, haha. Typically the holiday season for me is spent cleaning, reorganizing, shopping and decorating with some commitments with friends and family sprinkled into my already busy work schedule. It’s a lot! So you can see why I honestly I roll my eyes when I see articles about “How to Have a Stress and Anxiety-free Holiday” that are published once the season begins because realistically there really is no such thing. The best thing you can do is manage it so it doesn’t affect you as much. Which is why I decided to take some time to share 5 tips for managing holiday anxiety. I hope that it is helpful to those who may be struggling like I am right now.
1. Make a schedule (and stick to it)
Office parties, happy hours, brunches with friends, family gatherings – the invitations all come in mass around this time of year and it can get overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. Knowledge is power – if you know when and where you’re expected to be it may help lessen your anxiety levels. It also gives you a chance to postpone or avoid anxiety provoking situations like facing toxic family members who can bring up insecurities that have laid dormant for the last 11 months of the year. Even though it may not seem like it sometimes, you’re in charge of how you spend your time so be sure to RSVP to the things you actually wish to attend and don’t deviate from your decision.
2. Be empowered to say “No”
I’ll admit that I am a people-pleaser and my people-pleasing habit only gets “worse” once the holidays come around. Not only that but I rarely get invited to anything so I’ve been known accept invitations to things I don’t necessarily want or like to attend (read: Happy Hours) and I also overbook myself. If someone asks for something that may be too much at the moment, like taking part in the office Secret Santa gift exchange, baking cookies for a church function or co-hosting a holiday caroling event, say “no.” Keep in mind that while saying “no” doesn’t lock you into a commitment it also gives you the option of saying “yes” down the line should you find that you’re up to actually doing what you were asked or invited to before. The same goes for when you’re attending an event. I know I can only handle a specific amount of social stimulation so if I need to I will step outside to take a break or leave early even if I’m asked to stay a bit longer.
3. Have open and honest conversations with your friends, significant others and family
Before my friends come for me in the comments, I will admit that emotional vulnerability is something I struggle with. Typically I’m the first to jump into the fray to help a friend when they are in need of help, yet the very idea of people seeing what makes me tick gives me goosebumps. I have emotional scars that have left me feeling like I’m hard to love so I’m wary of most everyone I meet even when they are very vocal about coming from a point of honest friendship. Because of this I keep my feelings to myself. I say that all to say that even with this being the norm for me, I realize that it isn’t exactly the healthiest thing to do. Repressing emotions and suffering in silence can make you act out in toxic ways that can greatly affect others even if you don’t mean it to.
Sit down and clearly communicate what you’re feeling to those dearest to you, even if it has to be through text or email because let’s face it some of us struggle with getting out the right words to say. Sure, talking about something serious like mental health during what is meant to be a joyous season may be hard but your feelings are significant. I’m slowly learning that the proper support system won’t judge you or make you feel like you need to hide your anxiety. The same goes for family. Holiday time means family time for most of us, however this doesn’t mean that they are allowed to mistreat you in any way. Having spent 20-plus years navigating through familial microaggressions, unsolicited advice and direct insults got me to learn that it is not selfish to set boundaries and limits.
That being said, don’t be insensitive to the feelings of others. Keep in mind that you’re not the only one struggling during this time of year.
4. Make sure to take time for your self
No matter what time of year it is your well-being comes first. I’m notorious for not taking the best care of myself, be it physically, mentally or emotionally. Not only that but my sense self-worth has sadly been forever linked to my work load and accomplishments so I tend to keep myself busy to the point of exhaustion. Add holiday shopping and socializing to the mix and it all becomes anxiety attack fuel. So its imperative to take some time to do something you love, even if it is not holiday specific, to help recenter and recharge your batteries. Something like a spa day, a treat-yourself online shopping session, journaling, a solo away or just stay in, order some take-out and binge-watch your favorite shows and movies. The choices are endless!
As an adult working professional I’ve noticed that with all the holiday office parties, family gatherings and pursuit of the perfect Instagram picture, people really work HARD to out-do each other instead of empower with their fashion. Honestly, its not necessary. I mean I’m all for trying new things and styling new outfits for special occasions like Christmas, I am a fashion blogger after all, but I am totally against doing things for someone else. Your mother thinks that the sequin jumpsuit you bought to wear to Christmas dinner is not “flattering” for your figure? If you love it, wear it anyway. Don’t have money to spend on a new dress? Shop your closet and get some new accessories to mix the look up a bit. Don’t spend time obsessing about impressing other people or what they are going to think, just hype yourself and fellow fashionistas instead.
How do you manage your anxiety and/or depression during the holidays?