Taking time for yourself and investing in a self-care routine is one of the best ways to cope with holiday anxiety triggers.

While most people think of the holidays as the time to relax, cherish loving traditions and spend quality time with their friends and family, for others it’s not that magical. Whether it’s the thought of talking to strangers, entering a crowded room, attending a large event or even traveling away from the safety of their home, the holiday season can be incredibly stressful, overwhelming, or even feel downright triggering for those who are suffering from anxiety disorders. If you want to know how you can reduce the worry and stress often accompanied by this trying period, here are some ways you can deal with holiday anxiety triggers:

Take some pressure off yourself

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While the festive season might be a lavish and extravagant time, it is not a competition to see who can be the best or give the most. If you keep setting unrealistically high expectations for yourself during the holidays, you’re more likely to be let down and fall down a wormhole of unhealthy, negative thinking patterns. So, take some pressure off yourself this holiday season, and get rid of as many factors as you can, in order to have fewer things to stress about. Instead of preparing a big family meal, plan a potluck, or buy useful gift cards rather than expensive gifts. And most importantly, keep in mind that certain things simply won’t go as planned – and that’s perfectly fine.

Be respectful of your limitations

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Although it might go against your instincts, avoiding all of your stressors is not a good coping mechanism, and the holiday season is no exception. However, that doesn’t mean that you should agree to every activity and event, or push yourself over the limit. Ideally, you should make an effort to find a middle ground that doesn’t involve staying in the house during the whole season, but also takes into consideration the limits you have regarding the social interaction you are truly able to handle. For example, if you think Christmas parties are anxiety-inducing, the answer is not to avoid them. The best compromise would be to arrive early, honor the host, grab a quick bite, and then head home when you feel like it’s time to relax, instead of feeling the need to stay until the end.

Construct a good self-care routine

Take a few minutes out of your day to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. Many people find these exercises quite beneficial at relieving anxiety, as they help you focus on the present moment, instead of worrying about the holiday stresses to come. Another thing you can do is visit a spa or wellness center for a relaxing massage session, or even make an appointment at a great aesthetic clinic where you can pamper yourself with wonderful facials and treatments.  No matter what you opt for, make it a point to schedule some activities that will help you de-stress and unwind, as even taking only 15 minutes each day to devote to self-care can help you survive your holiday anxiety triggers.

Don’t try to find relief in alcohol

Drinking alcohol in order to relax can be incredibly tempting during the holiday season, especially when you’re attending an office party or family gathering where endless drinks are provided. But even though it might seem like a good way to loosen up in that moment, alcohol intake might actually make your anxiety even worse. Ultimately, getting through the holidays should be a calm and steady process, which is why finding a quick fix in alcohol can make it harder for you to survive the festive season without a panic attack. So, try your best to be cautious during holiday events, limit the amount of alcoholic drinks you are going to have, and stick firmly to that decision. 

Have a reliable support system

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If you have a family member or a good friend who is aware of your struggles with anxiety and is willing to help you through this difficult period, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. From a hug and a simple conversation to unconditional love and support, feel free to ask your loved ones for help. Whether they can offer you support at an overwhelming holiday party, help you manage large crowds when you do your Christmas shopping, or simply be there for you to answer a text or a phone call when you start feeling anxious, having a good support system in place will help you manage the stress of the holiday season much more efficiently. 

Most importantly, be kind to yourself and take good care of your mental health. The holiday season can be an incredibly difficult and challenging period, but you are strong, and you can get through it with the help of healthy coping mechanisms.