How to Deal with Holiday Anxiety Like an Adult

It’s only Tuesday and I’ve already seen at least 5 articles this week on how to get through the holidays with your sanity intact. And I’ve read every one of them because I’m already feeling the strain.  No doubt, ’tis the season for all of our anxieties to come shining through like a flashlight in the face!

But doesn’t this seem wrong, somehow? Why do we feel obligated to put ourselves through this year after year? Yes I get that traditions are important but does being super stressed out have to be a tradition too?

Truth be told, I don’t enjoy the holidays any more. I have a hard time finding the joy in it all when it all just feels TOO MUCH. Too much pressure, too much money, too much food, too many things to do, people to see, places to go…and for what? So we can post some Norman Rockwellesque photos on social media? So we don’t disappoint someone in our family? So we can feel like we did it “right”? I feel like the whole thing needs to be reworked.

But until I’m able to escape to the Caribbean for the months of November and December (someday!), I’m going to have to suck it up and deal. And here’s how I plan to deal with it:

  • Radical Acceptance – these holidays are happening whether I like it or not. They just are. So I can accept that I am going to have to do things I’d really rather not do, but since I am an adult I will handle myself with maturity and grace. And then I’m going to reward myself for Adulting so well.
  • Cope Ahead – I can make a plan and do things ahead of time that will make the actual event easier to deal with. That might mean cooking a few dishes ahead of time, getting in some exercise so I feel better, getting more rest, or watching for things I need to go on sale (so I feel like I have at least a little bit of control over my money).
  • Improve the Moment – sadly the only thing I can think of here is having a nice glass of wine or some spiked punch. But maybe it also means having some neutral discussion topics on hand – movies, books, etc – so that if the conversation takes a ridiculous turn, I can steer it back to common ground (this could also be considered Coping Ahead, I think). Retreating to another room for five minutes to watch a funny cat video is also a good way to improve the moment and my mood if I feel like it’s getting to be too much.
  • Find Joy in the Little Things – when my kids all pull together to get the house clean while I’m at work on Wednesday, noshing on my mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing, that glorious nap that comes after the meal, Christmas music on the radio during my daily commute, A Charlie Brown Christmas (along with ALL the Christmas classics), driving around and looking at Christmas lights, baking treats with my kids, making that first batch of the peanut butter balls that makes my husband so happy…these are the things I’m going to focus on. These are the things I’m going to look forward to.
  • Writing – I’m going to write, write, write, either here or privately because I already feel better about everything since I sat down to write this post.

If you love this time of year and you feel like you are on top of it, more power to you (and also, I envy you)! But for the rest of us who tend to feel like we’re caught in the undercurrent of TOO MUCH, let’s just take it easy on ourselves, okay? Let’s agree to do what we can and let that be good enough. Let’s agree to take spectacular care of ourselves and maybe, just maybe we’ll surprise ourselves and come out on the other side of this with some good times and warm memories.

 

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