Tips for Surviving Holiday Anxiety

As a child, the holidays were always a magical time for me, full of family, food, sparkle lights, Santa, and presents. But as I grew up, and mostly when my parents split up 10 years ago, the holidays became trickier, and new emotions crept in along with the excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the holiday season but certain aspects of it can be overwhelming and stressful at times.

I wrote about how to survive the holidays with divorced parents here, but wanted to touch on holiday anxiety in general because I’ve realized, after many conversations, that almost everyone I know suffers from it to some extent. The tips listed below have helped me a lot during a time that can be difficult for many people, especially those who suffer from anxiety.

Some of the things that stress me out during the holidays, to name a few, are: Pleasing everyone in my family and feeling guilty if I don’t, overcommitting throughout the season, getting off of my regular routine, and spending too much money. These action steps have helped me survive the holidays and enjoy this time of year even more!

1. Don’t overextend yourself. There are so many exciting parties and events and tree trimmings and Friendsgivings happening right now. Why would you want to say no to fun activities that are full of good food, good drinks, and good friends? But too many parties, plans, and late nights, can make you feel burnt out and exhausted during the work week. I know that when I feel that way, my work suffers and I end up eating badly. Remember that it’s ok to say no even if you don’t have an excuse. And it’s ok to need night at home with a cup of tea and a good movie. Even on a (gasp) weekend!

2. Stick to your regular routine… whenever possible. I’m a creature of habit, and I’ve learned in therapy that when I get off of my routines, everything gets thrown out of whack and anxiety creeps in. With all of the travel and events going on during the holidays, I’ve found it to be super important to stick to routines when I can. For example while we’re away for Thanksgiving next week or Christmas next month, I’ll stick to my bedtime routine and try to workout and move my body during the day.

3. Set up a gift-giving budget. Giving people I love presents that they love is one of my favorite things in the whole world, but the financial strain it brings is not. For the last three years, Anel and I have sat down and made a budget for how much we can spend on holiday gifts including how much we spend on each other. While that might not sound very romantic, it helps set ourselves up for success come January when business slows down for both of us every year. And it gives us guidelines that make gift buying less stressful.

To get even more specific, I have a Google Doc spreadsheet where I keep track of everyone we shop for, what we bought, the cost, whether it’s arrived or not, and if it’s wrapped. This spreadsheet is incredible and I love it and yes it’s probably insane but I don’t even care! Also, don’t buy anything full price if you can help it. Everything is on sale pretty much from now until Christmas, with the best sales happening next week for Black Friday.

Speaking of gifts, don’t forget to check out my holiday gift guide if you haven’t yet.

4. Eat and drink in moderation. My 80/20 rule for health usually ends up getting bent during the holiday season and I always regret it because I feel bloated, tired, and generally icky. I’ve already started feeling that so whenever I can, I try to implement my post-travel detox, or just parts of it, even when I’m not traveling.

I never condone depriving yourself, especially with all of the amazing goodies laying around this time of year, but I also know that if you overdo it, you won’t feel so hot. Read my post from last winter on how to stay healthy during the holidays here.

5. Get rid of guilt. This one is easier said than done but I know that I personally feel guilt during the holiday season because I can’t be with everyone for every holiday. With divorced parents and a set of in laws, that’s three different whole groups of people that we want to make sure that Amalia gets to see.

But this year we decided to make our own plan for Thanksgiving. We’re heading to Bermuda as a family of three with no pressure, no cooking, and no real traditions. Making that decision felt very empowering. Anel and I decided to banish our guilt and do something that made us feel happy and excited. We are making an effort to see everyone in our families over Christmas to make up for it.

So those are a few of my tips for combatting holiday anxiety! I hope they’re helpful. Let me know how you handle stress and anxiety around the holiday season below.




Photos by Julia Dags.

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Comments

  1. Libby said:

    I love this tips. I never knew that I had some anxieties around this time of year until I had to “adult” more. I will definitely be doing some of this, especially sticking to my routine!! Thanks so much!!

    https://premedwearspearls.blogspot.com

    xoxo Libby

    11.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Adulting isn’t always fun, that’s for sure. I hope they help!

      11.16.18 · Reply
  2. Kelsey said:

    I have a gift giving spreadsheet too & it’s a great way to compare and keep on budget year from year! No shame.

    11.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      No shame in our Excel game!

      11.16.18 · Reply
  3. Katherine said:

    Sticking to my routine is KEY! I try to control my exercise, sleep and eating as much as possible.

    11.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      It makes such a huge difference!

      11.16.18 · Reply
  4. Taylor said:

    I love the tip about giving up the guilt. My husband and I have to travel to see both of our families and we always go to one or the other for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mother-in-law is particularly good about laying on the guilt trip. But this year I will be 20 weeks pregnant at Thanksgiving and the idea of flying for both holidays just did not seem fun. So we are staying put for Thanksgiving! I am so excited to go see some of the Macy’s Day parade, cook (or not!) whatever food we want, and just relax with my husband. It wasn’t the most fun to tell our parents, but after about 2 minutes it was fine. You can’t be everywhere!

    11.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      First of all, congratulations! And also that sounds like an amazing Thanksgiving to me. Good for you for taking care of your body and your baby 🙂

      11.16.18 · Reply
  5. Gaby said:

    Love all these tips! I also do an Excel sheet for gifts – glad I’m not the only crazy one 😉 I love gift giving, but the financial aspect was always a source of anxiety for me. This past year my husband and I started a separate savings account that auto transfers a certain amount each month. We don’t even have to think about it, and by November/December we’ve saved enough for all our gifting – plus, no credit card bills! It’s been a total game changer for me!

    11.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Hahah nope, we’re in it together. I love that idea for holiday gift giving. Do you do it all year round? And do you only use it for holiday gifts?

      11.16.18 · Reply
      • Gaby said:

        Yes, it’s just our “Christmas gift” fund. So in January we decide roughly how much we want to/can spend on everyone, and divide it by 12. Then just auto draft that out of checking every month!

        11.16.18 · Reply
  6. Christine said:

    The last few years I’ve started keeping track of gift info in a note on my phone, but I just may need to graduate to a detailed spreadsheet this year!

    11.16.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Game changer. Try it!

      11.17.18 · Reply