Christmas, aside from Halloween, is by far my favourite time of year. The world transforms into a magical place at Christmas. The streets are flooded with Holiday shoppers carrying colourful packages wrapped in pretty colours and bows. Party invites, family time and all around Christmas cheer. For many, a time to don your Holiday best, go out and celebrate. For us, the ones with anxiety…well things can get down right overwhelming.
Here are some tips on how to survive the holiday season
Don’t book every weekend with something to do– I have a rule: if I go out on Saturday, I plan to have a quiet Sunday. It seems to be less daunting, when you know you have a social event coming up, to know that the day after you can look forward to some quiet down time. I will rarely accept invitations or book my self two days in a row. To some this might seem strange, even boring I mean the more the merrier right? wrong! at least for anxious or introverted people. If I go out every day of my weekend (otherwise known as my time to switch off), I will eventually have a meltdown mid week and for the umpteenth time, start considering purchasing real estate in Nome Alaska.
Choose the most important events to attend – You may get 10 invites, that doesn’t mean you have to say yes to every one. Choose the ones that mean the most to you, the ones with the people you really want to spend time with or perhaps one that is important to your partner or spouse like the company christmas party. Don’t feel obliged to say yes every time. Remember, when you have a party, not every person shows up and you don’t take it personally. More importantly, you want to pace yourself so that you actually enjoy the ones you do attend instead of pushing yourself beyond your limit and burning out.
Spend wisely – Christmas shopping for loved ones is fun, honestly, I love it. But going into the new year in debt just to impress, only creates stress. I start shopping as early as October and set a fixed amount out of each paycheque to spend and stick to it. Nothing ruins the spirit of giving than not knowing how long it will take you to pay it all off for the rest of the year.
Keep the celebration at home – I love cooking and hosting people in my home, it takes away the uncertainty and not knowing what to expect (a big thing if you have an anxiety disorder) when you go to someone elses place, having to meet new people or the scariest thing of all; having to play games, noooooo!. Having people over to your place gives you full control to make the party as big or intimate as you can handle. Yes it involves having to clean and probably do most of the cooking and serving but at least you’ll be distracted and busy and you can have a start and end time that you’re comfortable with. You can also retreat into your room, close the door and have a few minutes to breathe if you need.
Shop before the stores get too crowded – I bought my first Christmas gift in October. It’s December 3rd and I’m officially done. If you’re not a crowd or noise person like myself, a mall a week before Christmas is not the place you want to find yourself. I avoid panicking in long line ups and gasping for air as I push my way through holiday shoppers by starting early with the gifts I just must buy in a store, then I buy the rest online. Nothing more relaxing than picking up your purchases in the empty lobby of your building in your pijamas and grinch slippers.
I hope one or more of these tips might help you relax enough to enjoy this holiday season. Anxiety disorder is not an easy thing to deal with, especially when there are added pressures of socializing more than you like to in all 12 months combined. Take slow breaths, stay as long or as little as you please, enjoy a holiday drink and remember it only comes once a year. And as much as it may seem difficult, you don’t really want to miss out do you? So put on that ugly christmas sweater, take someone you trust and feel safe with by the hand and create some lovely memories.