It’s November 7th.
Rachel is having anxiety about the holiday season.
The holidays should be an exciting time of good cheer, warm family traditions, and spending time with friends.
Or, are they?
For Rachel, the idea of entering a crowded room and chatting with coworkers or strangers at a holiday party, exchanging gifts with friends, traveling from home, or attending large family gatherings produces intense anxiety.
Holiday parties are a common stressor. They can be terrifying for people with anxiety disorders, particularly those who struggle with social anxiety.
Rachel tries to avoid holiday gatherings. She discovered avoidance only keeps her fear alive and believes the holiday season make her feel more anxious.
So let’s make Rachel’s holiday stress rock….
…and your holiday stress rock too!
First, take the pressure off yourself. When you set high expectations for yourself at holiday events, you’re more likely to feel let down. Some things won’t go as planned. You know what? That’s okay.
Ever been at a party and feel people are focusing on you? Is my hair okay? Do I have lipstick on my teeth? Am I pretty enough? What dress should I wear?
Here’s the truth.
Most people aren’t paying attention to you. It feels like it. In reality, most people are probably wondering what you’re thinking of them!
Compliment a stranger. This makes others feel good, makes you feel good, creates the opportunity for some great dialogue, and reduces stress.
Next, identify your specific concerns. Are you afraid you’ll say the wrong thing or embarrass yourself?
What’s the worst that can happen? You may feel uncomfortable, maybe even very uncomfortable.
Yeah, that’s the worst that can happen.
Don’t look for relief in alcohol or drugs. Although it can be tempting to “take the edge off” at holiday events, alcohol and drugs can make anxiety worse.
And trigger panic attacks.
Smile. Make eye contact. Ask questions.
Most people like to talk about themselves and their interests. Ask other people about their holiday plans, what their kids are doing, or what book they’re reading.
Avoid religion, politics, and other topics that can lead to heated discussions.
That for sure has the potential to add to your stress!
Choose to say no. Try not to overschedule yourself during the holiday season. You don’t have to feel obligated to accept every invitation.
You may want to eliminate some traditions that cause you more stress than joy.
This is your season to make your holiday stress rock!
Loretta Holmes, MA CMHWC is an ADHD and Anxiety Coach at Bella ADHD Coaching and Bella Anxiety Coaching. Before pursuing a career in coaching, she worked as a special education teacher. Today, she combines her skills in teaching, psychology, and coaching to help humans feel like superheroes. Connect with Loretta at www.bellaanxietycoaching.com and at firstname.lastname@example.org