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Why Does My Anxiety Increase Around the Holidays?

Everyone experiences some stress during the holidays. This time of year is demanding. If you have a general anxiety disorder (GAD), this stress can heighten it. Anxiety can make it difficult to enjoy the holidays. Between socialization, shopping, scheduling, and gatherings, it’s easy to understand why.

You can take control of your anxiety with a few healthy coping mechanisms and the right support. Understanding what causes anxiety to increase around the holidays is the first step to learning how to cope with it. Let’s look at some common holiday triggers for anxiety and some ways you can manage your symptoms. 

Why Holidays Increase Anxiety

Here are a few different things that might trigger your anxiety during the winter season:

Overcommitment

It’s a common issue to overbook yourself during the holiday. If you’re trying to make every family gathering, friend’s party, and office get-together, your schedule can get cramped quickly. Set some healthy limitations for yourself. It’s okay to prioritize some invitations and decline others. Everyone’s schedule is busy, so more than likely, they’ll understand. 

If you’re hosting a gathering, it’s helpful to plan your menu ahead of time. Lists are your friend, for shopping and food planning. This can help you feel less likely to forget something and give you a space to keep all of your ideas. 

man sitting on couch with his head tucked into hands

Money troubles

Commercialism is a largely accepted part of the holiday season. Some people start the holiday shopping early, and that can be helpful. It’s also okay to make a budget and stick to it. If you have a long list that you just can’t pare down, consider something like cookies. 

Making batches of cookies, loaves of bread or simple ornaments can be great for giving to many people with a reasonable budget. Remember that even though there is anxiety about not having enough for the holiday, the stress of overspending will be much more and longer-lasting. 

Family drama

Just like you’re in power of whether you over-commit, you have control over who you visit. It’s okay to create boundaries between you and potentially toxic family members. If cutting them off completely increases anxiety, create space for yourself by giving them a video call instead of an in-person visit. 

Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and support you. Take advantage of smaller, more intimate gatherings. Let yourself relax during the holiday by allowing yourself the space you need. Understanding friends and family members won’t be offended by how you choose to cope with your anxiety.

Loneliness

Because anxiety so often leads to isolation or avoidant behavior, the holidays can bring loneliness. Those smaller and more intimate gatherings are a great remedy for this. It’s fine to need your space and take it without guilt. Complete isolation, however, is not the answer. 

Make sure you’re socializing, even if it’s just a little bit each day Text a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Nothing brightens the holiday like hearing from an old friend!

Ask for help

Because the holidays can have such a toll on mental health, it’s extremely important to reach out for the help you need. Supportive friends and family members are great to have in your corner. If you have significant trouble managing your symptoms or feel that you still need more support, reach out to a professional therapist. 

Therapy is proving a pivotal tool in the treatment and management of general anxiety disorder. Reach out to us to learn more about anxiety therapy and how it can help you during the holiday season and beyond.

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Green Heart Therapy provides in-person psychotherapy for adults, teens, and children in Los Angeles and online therapy across California.