6 Helpful Ways To Cope With Holiday Anxiety, That Make A Difference
The holiday blues affect many people every year. Christmas and New Year holidays can be very demanding, and people who suffer from holiday anxiety can find it very hard to cope with. I have personally dealt with holiday anxiety, and have found 6 helpful ways to cope with and ease my holiday anxiety symptoms. I hope this helps!
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Understanding holiday anxiety
There are many reasons you might feel like your anxiety is worse during the holidays. For example, you could be dealing with financial or personal problems during that time. That makes it very difficult to partake in the holiday cheer.
In other words, you might feel excluded, or alone, seeing others have joy in their lives.
Social anxiety can be another reason why your holiday anxiety gets worse. Primarily, holidays are a time of joy and celebration. Attending parties and family obligations could be a lot of work, that you might not feel comfortable with.
Another holiday anxiety trigger could be linked to reduced sunlight. “Winter blues” is essentially a mood shift during the darker and colder days of the winter. Sunlight boosts serotonin levels, which is the “feel good” chemical in our brains.
Holiday anxiety symptoms
- bad mood during the holidays
- anxiety symptoms worsen during the holidays
- feeling tired more often
- poor sleep quality
6 Helpful Ways To Deal With Holiday Anxiety
1. Just say “NO”
This one is a very important one. Holidays are mainly a time of gatherings and parties. However, if this isn’t your scene, you don’t have to attend. It’s as simple as that.
Prioritizing your mental health should be your number 1 priority when dealing with holiday anxiety.
Try attending one gathering and see how you feel. If your holiday anxiety flares up uncomfortably, stick to just that one. However, if you feel comfortable, you can try attending one more. Sometimes, your fear could stand in the way of your progress. Also, try going with a friend. Having a close friend with you, will make you feel more secure and at ease. Test your limits, and move one step at a time!
2. Go for a 10-15 minute walk
Exercise is the best medication you can ever take. Walking is a very scenic experience. It can lower the heart rate, relieve stress, and put you in a mindful state.
The part of your brain that controls anxiety is called the amygdala. Moreover, it is also responsible for decision-making. The amygdala can only perform one task at a time. That’s why making decisions when you are anxious is nearly impossible.
Walking has been shown to actually shut down the anxious part of your brain. It helps you think more clearly because it eases overthinking.
Aim for 10-15 minutes, then go for longer as you get more comfortable. Preferably, go for a walk in nature. Being surrounded by nature immediately puts you in a meditative state!
3. Get more sunlight.
Similar to walking, increased sun exposure boosts your serotonin levels.
In other words, it makes you feel happy! It also helps relieve symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The holidays take place during the cold and dark days of winter. Notice if what you are experiencing is holiday anxiety or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Make it your goal to get at least 15-20 minutes of sunlight every day! This minor step could have a huge impact on your holiday anxiety and anxiety overall!
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4. Practice meditation
Meditation is the practice of mindfulness. It can help you reduce negative emotions and focus on the present. It also helps you gain a new perspective on stressful situations, by teaching you the skills to manage your stress.
If you’ve noticed a heightened state of holiday anxiety, start by meditating for at least 1 minute a day. That should be enough to get you started!
I can personally vouch for the benefits of meditation! I started practicing meditation in April 2021, and since then, I have finally taken control of my overthinking and stopped self-judgment. Currently, I am working on managing anxiety with meditation exercises, using Headspace!
RELATED POST: 6 Easy Techniques I Used, To Start Practising Meditation.
5. Laugh more
Laughing automatically triggers positive physical and mental changes that help to relax your mind. Your brain also releases endorphins, hormones that cause a feeling of pleasure and a relaxed mind.
If your anxiety gets worse during the holidays, try watching something funny! It will make you feel much better.
Smiling also has many benefits for your mental health! When you smile, happy changes begin to take place automatically, both internally and externally. Become more aware of smiling throughout your day and just let go!
6. Get a good night’s sleep.
Remember how easy it used to fall asleep when we were younger? Unfortunately, things seem to have gotten much harder and more complicated.
Anxiety before bedtime is on the rise. I have personally been dealing with bedtime anxiety for quite a while, and I have felt its impact on my mental health.
A good night’s sleep can restore the brain’s prefrontal mechanism that regulates your emotions, lowering emotional and physiological reactivity and preventing the escalation of anxiety.
It also helps clear your mind of all thoughts and worries, which is why you are in a state of bliss upon waking up.
Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority! Sleep is absolutely essential, not just for holiday anxiety, but for every aspect of our health! Use the “Do Not Disturb” mode on your screen, starting from about 2 hours before bedtime. In those settings, allow the screen to dim to a warmer tone. That way even if you do go on your phone, the light isn’t as bright! Also, try drinking chamomile before bedtime. Once you start a chamomile tea regimen, you will start to feel the benefit!
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Frequently Asked Questions
How to deal with anxiety attacks?
One of the most crippling feelings for me is getting a panic attack. It feels as if I have lost complete control. The problem with anxiety attacks is that there is no quick fix. You will need to make some lifestyle changes, in order to solve the problem at its root. Here are some tips that have worked for me:
Start practicing meditation. Meditation gives you a superpower. It helps you gain control, as well as develop a new perspective on your anxiety. You will learn to stop judging yourself, and even make friends with your anxiety. At the end of the day, anxiety isn’t some entity living in your head. It is a part of you that needs your love and attention.
Sleep well. As mentioned above, make it your number 1 priority. Sit down and brainstorm a sleep strategy. Maybe put all devices away 1-2 hours before bedtime. Maybe start drinking chamomile tea, or find a book that you really like to read before bed. Find what works for you and stick to it. I personally live off of this tea combo:
Try the 4-7-8 technique. During an anxiety attack, your heart rate skyrockets. Your first step should be to try and bring that heart rate down. This technique has been such a lifesaver for me. It goes like this: Inhale for 4, hold for 7, and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat until you have regained control of your breathing and nerves.
Share how you feel, with someone you trust. One big mistake I have made while dealing with anxiety is trying to fight this battle alone. Although doing it alone isn’t impossible, having a shoulder to lean on takes so much pressure off your shoulders.
My husband was the first person I opened up to about my anxiety. I felt incredible. It was as if my anxiety was no longer this unbeatable monster living in me.
Anxiety is just another human emotion. It needs your attention and understanding. So talk about it, be open and transparent. You will be surprised at how many people actually deal with anxiety attacks, every single day.
Can I cope with anxiety without medication?
ABSOLUTELY! As mentioned above, I am against medication for treating anxiety. I truly believe that you need to make lifestyle changes, in order to solve it once and for all. Medication could offer some relief, but the problem isn’t really solved, you just put a bandaid over it. Patience and self-love will naturally help you cope with this strong emotion.
Why am I feeling anxious?
There are a number of reasons why you are feeling anxious. Anxiety is triggered by fear and worry. For example, you might feel anxious before an important job interview, an exam, etc. If your symptoms go beyond these situations, you might be dealing with a more in-depth issue such as:
- Agoraphobia – Fear of being in places or situations that make you feel trapped or helpless.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. Difficulty with controlling how you feel physically.
- Panic Disorder – Repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and panic attacks. These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – Avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
- Specific Phobias – Situations or events where you might have had a traumatic experience.
Final Thoughts On Holiday Anxiety
Dealing with holiday anxiety or holiday “blues” can be a serious life disruption.
I personally do NOT recommend taking any medication, because it isn’t sustainable. When I was 19 years old, I was dealing with severe anxiety and panic attacks. I was prescribed Effexor, which is an anti-anxiety medication. After 2 weeks, I stopped taking it.
Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication may control your symptoms, but they hold control over your emotions entirely.
I truly believe that lifestyle changes hold the key to gaining control over holiday anxiety and anxiety altogether.
It will take time and lots of self-work, but in the process, you will learn to love and accept every single aspect of yourself. Even your anxiety.
Check out Art of Tea here.
These are the products I have been using for better sleep.
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Hi! You are so right about all of those things. I would love to get into yoga to help keep me grounded throughout the year. Great article!
I love number 5! Great tips!
I enjoyed so much your post. The holidays and wintertime can indeed be very stressful, but I’ll put into practice these recommendations…starting with a 15 min. walk. Thanks for sharing!
Living in NYC makes me appreciate my home country 🇯🇲 even more. Everyone is happier, it’s sunny 🌞, the food, vibes and energy is amazing. The winter months here in the US, sometimes leads to stress, anxiety and the winter blues. I am sure your cooping mechanisms for dealing with holisay related anxiety.
Great tips!! The holidays are magical but can be hard. Can’t wait to get started with the self-care challenge!
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