’Tis the Season to be….Anxious?

We have all heard the expression “holiday blues,” but are you familiar with the term “holiday angst?” This “most joyous” time of year can become stressful to even the calmest and most collected individuals. The anxiety-provoking expectation to have a “perfect” holiday season has been humorously depicted in TV and film for generations. In movies such as: “A Bad Moms Christmas”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, and “Four Christmases;” the goal is to get through it with a sense of peace, joy, and SANITY. And with all of the necessary holiday demands, who wouldn’t be anxious, right?!

The decorating!

Aah…. the lights, the bells, the wreaths, the stockings, the ornaments, the TREE!!! Its time to go into the garage and dust off those boxes filled with holiday décor. We throw out our backs, freeze our butts off, and usually prick and/or hammer a finger but who cares so long as our decorations look better than our neighbors! And of course, once everything is in its perfect place…we have our pets eating tinsel, toddlers playing with fragile tree ornaments, and the electric bill to worry about! No biggie though, right?!

The shopping!

Once Black Friday hits, shopping for the most cutting-edge toys for your kids, the perfect blouse for your mom, and the best deal on the iPhone X for your partner becomes top priority. You go to the mall, pushing through the crowds and waiting in the lines only to find out that your best friend got everything online for 20% off WITH free shipping. And on Dec. 15, when you’ve just finished buying gifts for everyone on your list, you find out that there is a mandatory Secret Santa this year at the office holiday party! But even then, you still believe that the season is merry and bright, right?!

 The cooking!

If perfectionism is your inclination, this time of year really becomes your arch nemesis. But even if it isn’t, the pressure of hosting a holiday dinner can seem very overwhelming. We question and second-guess everything!! Is the spread impressive enough? Are the hors d’oeuvres to their liking? Is there enough alcohol? Will the ham be ready on time? Did I accommodate enough for my vegan guests? My gluten-free guests? My lactose-intolerant guests? And then, the moment comes when you remember that you forgot about Barbara’s nut allergy after making the cranberry sauce!! It’s ok; you’ll just whip up a new batch real quick, right?!

The traveling!

Let’s not forget about the joys of traveling during the holidays. The stress of dealing with traffic and the airports alone can compel anyone to speed dial their therapist. But not you, you made it, you just got past security and the anxiety is finally beginning to subside when you learn that your flight has been delayed for 3 hours and the Starbucks in your terminal is closed for renovations. Ugh! Hang in there though, right?!

The Anxiety!

And once you’ve made sure that everybody got everything that they wanted and needed throughout this holiday season, you come to realize that nobody even thanked you. This is when you think; “I’d better call my therapist to schedule 2 sessions next week,” right?!

Following some of these tips on how to reduce “holiday angst” may help as well.

  • Get organized: Plan a schedule of daily/weekly tasks so that you are not doing everything at the last minute.
  • Add a little fun into your days: Use humor and practice self-care.
  • Delegate: Ask your daughter to help with decorating, your son to help with shopping, and your spouse to help with cooking.
  • Lower your expectations: It’s ok if the mashed potatoes have some lumps; many people prefer them that way.
  • Give yourself a break: If you weren’t able to get that “one special toy” by Christmas morning, it’ll most likely be in stock (and on sale) the following week.
  • Designate a “support person”: Pick someone you can vent to when you are feeling stressed.
  • Keep in mind: Consuming yourself with a skewed idea of “perfection” will surely promote unnecessary anxiety.
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