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Anxiety and the Holidays

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

The holiday season promises so much every year. We’re inundated with movies complete with cute happy endings, commercials of families coming together eating dinners that could only be made by professional chefs, and pictures on social media of perfectly put together families all smiling on cue.

But for most (if not all) of us, the holidays also come with anxiety and stress. There’s so much to do and so much expected of us during this season, and if we fall short of the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ expectation, we can feel like we failed and be filled with disappointment instead of joy.

So what do we do instead to make the holidays less anxiety provoking? Below are five ways to reduce the stress of anxiety and (hopefully) make this holiday season a bit more enjoyable.

1. Focus on present moment

Perfectionism is a trap. The expectations put into the holidays coupled with the desire to do everything in a certain way can increase the anxiety and stress throughout the season. Whenever we focus on needing something to be perfect, anything less feels like a failure. And, it’s almost certain that we will find something to be less than perfect because this is real life. Instead of trying to have the perfect holiday season, focus instead on the present moment.

2. Focus on what you have

Comparing almost always makes us feel less than. In addition to comparing ourselves to people who seem to have more than us, comparing is most always in accurate. Not only do we see ourselves in a more negative light and feel anxious about what we think is missing, we often only see what people want us to see so we’re comparing ourselves to people’s highlight reel. Social media is a great example of this. We only see the perfectly lit posed pictures and not all the outtakes. This season, instead of comparing yourself to others, focus solely on what you have.

3. Take care of yourself

As schedules get busier, it’s easy to put our needs last. For this reason, by the time the season is over we feel stressed, anxious, and exhausted. Instead, keep as much of your selfcare routine into your holiday schedule as well. Even having a few ways you consistently take care of yourself throughout the holidays can reduce anxiety and leave you feeling more well rested. An added bonus is that you’ll mostly likely enjoy the holidays more too.

4. Prioritize people and traditions that matter to you

We can’t do everything in life, and that’s true in the holiday season as well. If you find yourself overscheduled, instead of trying to do everything and feeling exhausted and anxious, prioritize what’s important to you. If you’re unsure of how to do this, take out your calendar and think about things like who is important to spend time with and what are important activities to you. Don’t forget about number 2 in this list as well – make sure there’s some selfcare scheduled in too!

5. Ask for help

We all need help sometimes! Throughout the busy holiday season it can seem almost impossible to ask for help – either we feel everyone else is too busy or we think we have to do everything to have them done the right way. But in reality, our loved ones don’t want us stressed and overwhelmed and would probably be happy to help. Asking for what we need is a skill, and if this doesn’t come easily to you, be kind to yourself and start small. Not only will asking for help and receiving it reduce some of the holiday stress, it will also leave you feel more supported and cared for by loved ones.

The holiday season can be hard for a variety of reasons, but if you find that the anxiety of the season is a main issue, try this tips. They just might help you go into the new year feeling rested, relaxed, and like you had the best holiday season possible.

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