Strategies for Managing Holiday Anxiety

Strategies for Managing Holiday Anxiety

The holiday season is supposed to be one of the most wonderful times of the year. However, for individuals with a mental health disorder, this time of the year can cause holiday anxiety. Living with a condition like anxiety may make you feel anxious about what the next few months will entail. 

What Is Holiday Anxiety?

The holiday season can be hectic, which can cause holiday anxiety. If you struggle with holiday anxiety, you may feel worried or panicked as the holiday approaches. Other symptoms include:

  • Racing heart or heart palpitations
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Body tension or upset stomach
  • Feeling on edge
  • Irrational thinking
  • A sense of impending doom
  • Increased worry
  • Panic attacks

What Causes Holiday Anxiety?

There are a number of factors that contribute to holiday anxiety, which include the following.

Financial Troubles

Dealing with financial pressures can cause major anxiety for some people. This could be due to buying gifts, traveling, needing food, or planning a party. The anxiety these circumstances can induce may make it difficult to feel cheery about the holiday season.

If you’re a parent or in a relationship, you may worry you won’t be able to afford to purchase gifts for your children or significant other. If you live in a different state or country than your family, you may feel stressed about travel expenses. While the holidays are meant to be a joyful time, financial troubles can cause excessive worry. 

Social Situations

Being expected to show up for social situations during this time of year can cause holiday anxiety. Whether it’s a family gathering or a work party, if you struggle with anxiety, you may not feel like going. Even the thought of not showing up may cause anxiety because you’re worried about disappointing others. 

If you’re not able to work through your anxiety and attend a social gathering, know that it’s ok to decline the invitation. 

Family Issues

If you don’t have a good relationship with your family, spending time with them for the holidays can bring about anxiety and stress. Although this is the ideal time to spend with your loved ones, it’s best to steer clear of any family dynamics that could potentially trigger you. 


If you don’t have anyone to spend the holidays with, you may be struggling with some loneliness. Being bombarded online with pictures of people enjoying this time of year can leave you feeling sad and anxious about what’s to come. 

Six Ways to Manage Holiday Anxiety

Holiday anxiety is manageable through a number of methods, including the following.

#1. Identify Your Triggers

When thinking about strategies to help with holiday anxiety, it’s important to identify your triggers. What’s on your mind when feelings of anxiety overwhelm you? Take time to write down your triggers in a notebook. This will also help you accept that there is a problem. 

#2. Try Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has been proven to be effective in treating anxiety. During a mindfulness meditation practice, you’ll focus your attention on your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Instead of judging them, you will simply observe them as they come and go. Practicing mindfulness can help you focus on the present moment, which can ease anxiety. 

Meditation can also give you a chance to sit with any difficult emotions you’re experiencing and eventually release them. 

#3. Allow Yourself to Grieve

Sometimes getting through the holiday season is difficult because you’re mourning the loss of a loved one. Whether it’s your first holiday without them or they’ve been gone for some time, it’s crucial to sit with your feelings and allow yourself to grieve. 

It may help to do something in honor of your loved one. Take time to remember them and reminisce on all the beautiful memories you created together. 

#4. Create Healthy Boundaries

Having boundaries is essential to managing holiday anxiety. This is the perfect time to learn how to say no. Don’t overextend yourself or take on more than you can handle. 

#5. Practice Self-Care

When you’re battling mental health struggles, self-care is essential for staying well. It may be hard to engage in self-care if you’re down, but it’ll help you feel better. Take time to do something nice for yourself. If you can afford to, treat yourself. 

Other ways to practice self-care include:

  • Catching up on sleep
  • Being active
  • Limiting or halting substance use
  • Journaling
  • Eating nutritious meals
  • Practicing good hygiene

Carving out time for self-care can help you feel more optimistic about the holidays. 

#6. Ask for Support

In moments of distress, sometimes the best thing you can do is ask for help. If your holiday anxiety is excessive and interferes with your daily life, treatment like therapy can help. 

It takes courage to reach out for help, and it’s not a sign of weakness. Some battles are too difficult to go through alone. Working with a therapist will help you get to the root cause of your anxiety. You may also ask for support from trusted friends and family. 

Getting Through the Holidays

Surviving the holiday season can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. If you’re dreading this time of year, you’re not alone. While some holiday stress and anxiety are normal, if it’s excessive, it’s time to seek support. Utilizing coping strategies can help you work through any issues you’re facing. However, if using coping skills alone isn’t enough, it may be time to explore other options, such as therapy. 

Reach out for help so that you don’t have to struggle through the holidays alone. 

While the holiday season should be joyful, many individuals experience excessive stress and worry during this time of year. Holiday anxiety can be debilitating and completely overpower you. Without the right tools, you may struggle to cope. When coping strategies don’t work, help is available. Alter Wellness Care is an outpatient mental health treatment center that specializes in treating a variety of mental health conditions. We serve individuals struggling to recover from their disorder. We offer both an intensive outpatient program and a partial hospitalization program to ensure your individual needs are met. When you’re ready to get help, our door is open. To learn more, call us at (866) 311-3510.

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