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4 Ways to Manage Anxiety During a Stressful Holiday Season

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Gathering around the table, we often hear the familiar voices of family members of all ages. Smiling faces and the yearly smell of holiday meals. We fill up a plate and pass our dish to the next happy family member as we grin and share the same story of what we have been up to for the 37th time. 10 minutes into a meal and we might feel like crawling under the table and hiding for the rest of the night just to avoid anyone else. It’s not that this isn’t all welcome, it’s just that sometimes the act of putting on your public face is so much work that it wears you out after a short time. This is what many people might experience during the holidays, so here are ways to help you survive this short but stressful time.

1. Know Your Limits

I think the number one thing that has helped me in being able to function in society again is knowing my limits. I’m a very social person, but sometimes I get worked up from being in crowded spaces; my anxiety peaks and I start acting strangely, talking in quick sentences and at a rapid pace. Even though I like being around people, I know when I’ve hit my limit and know that this when I need to take action.

2. Don’t Be Embarrassed

This is vital. Do not be embarrassed that your limits are different than other peoples. If you can only be around others for five minutes without feeling like your going to claw your eyes out, or if your grandmother is irritating you with her obsessive judgmental comments about your significant other (or lack thereof); do not feel embarrassed to walk away and change the situation. The most important thing you can do is remain in a healthy headspace, it’s going to be better for everyone, instead of you just grinning and bearing through the overwhelming feelings you may be going through at the time.

3. Don’t Neglect Others, or Yourself

Take breaks, but don’t give up! Prepare a quiet space before anyone comes over. Make somewhere that you can go and be alone even if it is for 20 seconds. Make this space as peaceful as you can, use headphones to block out the noise from outside the room. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness exercise to ground you. Take a few minutes and then go back at it. Do not be afraid to do this more than a few times.

4. This Too Will Pass

Finally, just know that this is temporary. The feelings you are having are real but not reality. It is OK to feel overwhelmed, overstressed and overworked. This is a short period of time in a long, long act. Think of it as sprinting part of a marathon, it’s hard, but eventually it will let up and you can get back to your normal routine.

In short, taking these few steps to manage the anxiety that often accompanies the stresses of the holiday season can allow you to function and thrive through one of the most stressful times of the year.

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Getty image via LightFieldStudios

Originally published: April 5, 2023
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