5 Ways to Combat Holiday Anxiety

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Hey friends! So I've been thinking the holidays are like really great right?! You get to slow down, be with the ones you love, watch cheesy Christmas movies, binge on sweets, decorate your house beautifully, and there are lots of gifts involved - and who doesn’t love gifts?! But, I would also be lying if I said these things outweighed the immense amount of holiday anxiety I get. I already have anxiety as something that I have to live with during my day-to-day life, but the holidays definitely amplify it for me, and I know I’m not the only one. My holiday anxiety also isn’t a new thing, I mean for as long as I can remember I’ve gotten so wound up on Christmas Eve that I am a nightmare to be around (you gotta own up to your flaws ya know?). My mom used to give me Benadryl on Christmas Eve so that I could sleep and not be up all night harassing her- call it what you want, but I think that’s great parenting and I’ll definitely be following in my mom's footsteps on that one.

In general, I have been trying to find ways to cope with my anxiety, because it’s not something that is going away, but I also don’t want it to run my life. That’s why I’ve wanted to do this post. First of all, it has helped me sit down and think of ways I can deal for myself, but also I want those of you who struggle with anxiety to feel freedom this holiday season and not feel trapped by that dreaded holiday anxiety!

So, I’ve come up with five ways to combat it. I claim to be no expert on the matter, but I hope you find some practical use in them!

1. Take the Pressure Off

One thing I’ve noticed about my anxiety is a lot of it stems from my head. Speaking as someone whose mind is always racing and it feels hard to slow it down enough to have a clear train of thought or path to take, I think I can get wrapped up and overwhelmed by things that don’t actually exist/matter especially at the holidays. For me, I think I have such a clear and exact picture of how I want things to go down and being from a big crazy family that never happens, which sends me into a tizzy. It’s almost like I put this immense pressure on the holidays and then it never lives up to my expectations, leaving me feeling anxious and upset. So this year I am doing my best to take the pressure off. I don’t know what that looks like for you like if its to get the perfect gift, decorate the house perfectly, cook the most delicious meal or capture the best Instagram, but I think it’s getting to us and we need to remember just to let it be. So, in the simplest of ways, maybe you don’t agonize over the perfect gift or don’t stress if your tree doesn’t look perfect and I think that will create more space to find ourselves pleased instead of anxious!

2. Take a Breath

This one is simple and one I credit to my yogi sister. When I’m getting spun up she always reminds me to just stop and take a breath. If you haven’t ever tried this you might be thinking “Summer, you are crazy no way that is going to work,” but I promise you it does. I do this breathing exercise I was taught a long time ago, and I’m going do my best to explain it: You breathe in from your nose for four counts, hold for two counts, let out through your mouth for eight counts, and then hold for two before you start again! SO when that holiday anxiety starts to creep in, and you feel like Christmas is ruined, no one is going to like their gifts, you will never finish all the things you need to get done, and so on (trust me these are actual thoughts of someone who has holiday anxiety) take a moment to try this breathing exercise above before you keep moving through the day!

3. Trust

I think that anxiety and trust are directly correlated. When I stop trusting I grow anxious. I’ve recognized the pattern, and I realize that if you have made it this far down in my blog post, you might be starting to think “wow she is really self-aware and on top of it” and I don’t want you to be fooled. When I take a step back, I can see how my anxiety presents itself and when, but when I’m in the midst of it I am grasping to keep my head above water. I just wanted to make that clear, because I’ve promised to keep it real. But let’s talk trust. Trust requires letting go of control and taking the back seat, which can be really hard especially at the holidays when we want everything to be perfect. But, I think when I slow down for a second, or if I wake up in the morning and remind myself that it will be okay and trust the world isn’t going to fall apart if I don’t find the perfect gift, my anxiety seems a lot smaller. This one is weird because in some ways it’s letting go of the power, but also taking it back in the way that by trusting you have to let go but you will gain so much more freedom in doing so!

4. Be Present

Stop stressing about what is to come or what may happen. The holidays are supposed to be a gift of slowness and time to be with the ones we love the most. Our holiday anxiety is going to steal that from us if we don’t stop to be present. You could keep making a to-do list of a million things you have to get done, and you could make ten more trips than necessary to target, OR you could set aside a few days or maybe a few hours a day to just be present wherever and with whomever you find yourself! I leave for California on the 23rd, and I plan to shut down social media (for the most part) on the 24th and the 25th that way I can just be with my family. I’m hoping this will be one way that my anxiety feels less like it runs me! How are you going to slow down and be present in the next month?

5.  Remember Yourself

Last, but certainly not least don’t forget that YOU matter. Y’all know I am the biggest supporter behind the #selfcare movement, and I think that’s why I saved this one for last because I believe that it might be the easiest one to forgo but also it’s the most important to remember! I know for me I get so caught up in making sure that everyone else is enjoying himself or herself and that all of the Christmas festivities play out in a way that is so perfect it could be turned into a movie, but this is simply just unrealistic. And as someone who otherwise probably spends too much time thinking about herself, my holiday anxiety more so manifests in me being worried about everyone else. This makes me miserable to be around because I’m so wound up I can’t actually enjoy anything. So I’ve made a pact with myself that if I need 15 minutes of quiet in the midst of the craziness I will take it and the world won’t end. I will take the time to do the things I love like getting ready and picking out the perfect outfit, and my family won’t hate me if I’m not with them every second. If we take the time to love on ourselves in whatever way feels/looks the best for us then we will have so much to offer all the people we are around this holiday season! So don’t forget that you matter and think of ways you can love yourself over the next couple of weeks.

And when the going gets tough just imagine Leonardo DiCaprio rooting for you to defeat that holiday anxiety!

Well my loves that’s it. My five tips to take back the holiday season and not let that horrid anxiety run you into the ground. I needed these tips just as much as the next person if not more, and I hope that you find some practical way to incorporate them over the next few weeks! 

XO Sum