The holiday season is often thought of as a joyous time of year that brings people together for celebration and good cheer. However, many people experience a heightened state of anxiety that can be difficult to navigate through without the proper support and coping strategies in place. Holiday anxiety can be triggered for a variety of reasons and it’s important to understand what triggers your holiday anxiety to better establish healthy coping mechanisms that will help diminish the holiday anxiety and help you embrace the festive season in a way that is psychologically safe and comfortable for you. 

Common Triggers of Anxiety During the Holidays

Exploring triggers of anxiety is a necessary step to take to better understand your symptoms of anxiety and help you to create a healing, treatment plan that will set you up for success during the holiday season. A person can have one specific trigger or there can be a variety of triggers that you need to be mindful of that can trigger your anxiety. The holiday season has common occurrences and triggers that can invoke anxiety, continue reading to discover the common triggers and learn effective strategies for managing holiday anxiety. 

The Impact of Social Gatherings and Expectations

The holiday season is known for the influx of social gatherings where family, friends, work colleagues, and acquaintances come together to celebrate the season. While these events are intended to be a joyous occasion, they can become a significant cause of stress and holiday anxiety. The pressure to attend these social events and conform to the societal expectations of spreading joy and cheer can feel overwhelming when you have previous struggles with social interactions. There is often a preconceived notion that attending social events means that you have to engage in small talk with others and be social. If you attend a holiday party and already are living with social anxiety, it can create a significant fear of being judged, compared, or feeling isolated from not fitting in. 

If you’re struggling with social anxiety during the holidays, it’s important that you set realistic expectations for yourself and create boundaries for yourself with others in social situations. You don’t have to be the social person that you think society expects. Do what feels right for you and allow yourself grace to choose which social gathering you attend while also finding ways to prioritize your self-care to help minimize the onset of holiday stress. 

Financial Stress and the Holidays

The holidays can bring several financial costs to a person’s life that can add additional stress during an already busy time of year. There is a desire to provide thoughtful gifts to those you care about and depending on the size of your list, the costs of gifts can become onerous to someone on a budget. The societal expectation to give and receive gifts can make it stressful and challenging to find ways to stay within your budget and, sometimes, can lead people to go into debt. Others may need to travel to spend the holidays with family or loved ones. No matter what the reason for the financial costs, these additional expenses can weigh heavily on someone leading to holiday anxiety and stress that can feel challenging to manage. 

Managing your finances throughout the holidays and finding ways to stay within your budget is essential for minimizing unnecessary holiday anxiety and stress. If you’re looking to buy gifts for people on your list, consider prioritizing your gifts to experiences or meaningful, homemade gifts. These types of gifts are memorable and meaningful without breaking the bank. It is important to remember that you have the right to set boundaries with your family and friends about your budget constraints so that you can feel comfortable and confident that you can stay within your financial budget during the holidays. Instead of gifts, prioritize time spent together, enjoy shared activities, or find ways to create DIY projects that come from your heart. 

Navigating Family Dynamics and Relationships

The holiday season can often mean family get-togethers and celebrations that are intended to foster happy memories, and celebrations, and spread joy amongst the family. For some, this can be a joyous occasion while others can find the pressure of navigating difficult family dynamics and relationships to be a challenging and stressful time of year. Some families may have strained relationships or unresolved conflicts that can contribute to the onset of holiday anxiety. 

Before attending any family events or celebrations this holiday season, ensure that you set clear boundaries and have healthy communication with your family. Have an open dialogue about potential conflicts and if you’re concerned about the family dynamics, you can choose what events you will attend and allow yourself grace to stay firm in your boundaries for self-care. 

The Role of Loneliness and Isolation

anxiety about the holidays

There is often a notion that the holiday season is centered around togetherness and spending time with friends and family. For some people, this may not be the case as they may be without close family or friends, or separated from loved ones due to specific circumstances. Those individuals who may be without loved ones during the holiday season may experience heightened feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

If you’re experiencing loneliness or isolation during the holiday season, there are ways to find a connection within your community to help combat the difficult emotions you’re experiencing. Volunteering for local charities can help connect you with others while also helping give to a good cause. There may also be local events or social groups that you can attend that will help you find connections with others during the holiday season and lessen the feelings of holiday anxiety. 

Coping with Loss and Grief During Festive Times

With the holiday season seemingly having a large focus on togetherness and creating memories with loved ones, it can be an especially difficult time for anyone coping with loss and grief. The holidays are often associated with traditions and memories from holidays past which can bring up difficult emotions and anxiety as you’re heading into the festive time of year. When you’re managing and navigating the emotions of grief and loss during the holiday season, it’s important to honor your emotions and ensure that you seek help from professionals or counselors, friends, or family to assist and support you in this challenging time. 

Managing Holiday Anxiety: Effective Strategies and Techniques

If you’re recognizing the onset of holiday anxiety, it’s important to be equipped with the proper coping strategies and techniques that will help you minimize the severity of anxiety and help you to have a balanced state of mental health and well-being. Some common strategies to use during the holiday season to manage your holiday anxiety are: 

  1. Create realistic expectations for yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make everyone else happy and go along with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and festive gatherings. Give yourself grace and be mindful of what feels right for you in the moment. 
  2. Set boundaries for yourself and others. Determine what events or traditions you will attend while also setting boundaries for the types of interactions you will engage in.
  3. Prioritize self-care. Find ways to ground yourself and help nourish your own physical and psychological health through self-care strategies that are effective and meaningful for you. 
  4. Engage in mindfulness and relaxation practices. These activities are great assets when you’re dealing with anxiety as they help ground you and promote a sense of calm. Find opportunities each day to engage in these activities to maintain healthy mental health functioning 
  5. Utilize the supports around you. Whether you have professional support or the support of family and friends, reach out to those who care about you to help you get through any difficult days. 

How WhiteSands Treatment Can Help with Holiday Anxiety

WhiteSands is a leading treatment center that offers comprehensive mental health treatment plans that are individualized for all of our patients. We understand the varying emotions, stresses, and triggers that the holiday season can bring and our team is committed to helping you find effective, meaningful methods of managing these emotions through healthy coping strategies and techniques. Our team will support you in addressing your unique needs and help to establish a healing plan that will help you prioritize your mental health well-being and learn to find joy in a way that is right for you this holiday season. 

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.