5 Tips for the Anxious Holiday Host
Getting family together over the holidays can be stressful for anyone, and if you have anxiety, the pressure of entertaining on top of family tension can be enough to send your blood pressure soaring. That feeling can be discouraging when what you really want is to enjoy spending quality time with family. But just because you have anxiety, you don’t have to let it get the better of you this holiday season. Follow these tips to keep your cool, keep the peace, and truly enjoy hosting a great family gathering.
- Take time to pause
The holidays are a time of hustle and bustle, and preparing to entertain family at your home adds to your to-do list. You may have a tendency to push through that list, but don’t make that mistake! You CAN’T do it all, and you need to take care of yourself. Sometimes that may mean literally taking a breather by separating yourself from the crowd and focusing on your breath. Giving yourself that timeout will help you reset and refocus on why you’re all getting together in the first place. For a little help, follow Shape’s meditation guide specifically aimed towards handling the holidays.
- Set reasonable expectations
One of the biggest pitfalls in hosting a holiday gathering is setting unrealistic expectations. Whether it’s about making your decorations look Pinterest perfect or creating the best memories with your family, go into the holidays knowing that nothing is perfect and mishaps do happen. Holidays are a busy and often stressful time for everyone, so plan ahead and do what you can to keep everyone happy (including yourself), but give yourself grace too when everything doesn’t go as planned.
- Focus on gratitude
In all the chaos of the holiday season, it can be easy to get caught up in stress and drift away from the spirit of what you’re celebrating. When anxiety creeps in, stop and focus on gratitude instead. Replacing anxiety by reminding yourself of what you’re grateful for immediately shifts your mindset to positivity and helps you recenter. Pay that gratitude forward by doing something nice for your guests or giving them a compliment. There’s something magical about sharing gratitude – it spreads joy by brightening someone else’s day and lifts your mood at the same time.
- Keep the peace
When you get family members together, especially around the holidays when tensions may already be high, there is always the fear of conflict arising. To help avoid conflict, start first by looking at how you interact with your family members. Time recommends 5 “poisons” to avoid when family members come for the holidays – stop assuming, stop generalizing, stop attacking, stop rejecting, and stop defending. By being aware of your own interactions, you can lead the way in keeping the peace. Be aware too that you can’t expect people to change, so if you know someone will be coming who does or says something you don’t like, simply accept that fact ahead of time.
- Don’t rely on drugs or alcohol
The holiday season can often be booze-filled, and it may be tempting to lean on alcohol or drugs to reduce your stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America warns not to fall into this trap because it can actually make your anxiety worse. This is especially crucial if you’re recovering from addiction because you don’t want holiday stress to be a trigger that leads you back down a destructive path. Plan ahead and be aware of how you need to care for yourself and what you can do to prevent a relapse. If having alcohol around will heighten your stress or be a possible trigger, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask guests not to drink either to support you in your sobriety.
The main thing to remember is that anxiety doesn’t have to get in the way of hosting a joyous and memorable holiday gathering. By using these tools you can keep your anxiety level low and make guests happy too so that everyone can focus on the spirit of the season.