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Symptom Check: 6 Signs You Might Be Struggling with Anxiety Over the Holidays

The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy and celebration, but for many, it can be a source of anxiety. Whether it’s the pressure to buy the perfect gifts, attend multiple events, or spend time with family and friends, the demands of the holiday season can be overwhelming. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed during this time of year, you may be struggling with anxiety. In this article, we’ll explore the common symptoms of holiday anxiety and offer practical tips for coping with and managing this condition.

Causes of Holiday Anxiety: Understanding the Roots of Stress During the Festive Season

Holiday anxiety can be triggered by various factors, such as past experiences or trauma, financial stress, and unrealistic expectations. For some, the holidays can stir up old wounds or unresolved conflicts, leading to feelings of anxiety or sadness. Financial stress can also be a common cause of holiday anxiety, as people may feel pressure to buy gifts or travel, leading to feelings of financial strain. Finally, unrealistic expectations can also contribute to holiday anxiety. We may have an idealized image of what the holidays should look like, and when reality falls short, we may feel disappointed or stressed.

By understanding the causes of holiday anxiety, we can better cope with and manage this condition. If you’re struggling with holiday anxiety, it’s essential to recognize the root causes and work on addressing them. Your options include seeking support from a therapist or loved ones, setting boundaries, or finding healthy ways to cope with stress.

Symptoms of Holiday Anxiety

Physical Symptoms

 Anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, and muscle tension. These symptoms can be triggered by stress and may be difficult to distinguish from normal holiday jitters. For example, if you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming family gathering, you may experience a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, or muscle tension as a result.

Loss of Time and Feeling Dissociated

 Stress can also cause us to feel disconnected from the present moment and struggle to focus or remember what’s happening around us. If you feel like you’re floating through the holidays and have no sense of time, this may be a sign of anxiety. This dissociative symptom can make it challenging to engage in holiday activities or enjoy the festive season fully.

Unusual Behaviors or Compulsions

Anxiety can also lead to extreme compulsions, such as the need to check and recheck that doors are locked or engage in excessive cleaning. These behaviors may provide temporary relief but can also become persistent and interfere with daily life. For example, suppose you’re feeling anxious about the safety of your home. In that case, you may find yourself pacing, checking, and rechecking that the doors are locked multiple times or cleaning and disinfecting your home excessively.

 Avoidance of Certain Situations

If you find yourself avoiding certain situations or activities because of fear or dread, this may signify anxiety. For example, you may avoid holiday gatherings or decline invitations to events because you’re worried about feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This avoidance can make it difficult to fully participate in the holiday season and can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Excessive Worry

Excessive worry and paranoia are some of the most prevalent symptoms of anxiety. If you constantly worry about everything from gift-giving to travel plans, this may signal that you’re struggling with holiday anxiety. This excessive worry can interfere with your daily life and make it difficult to fully relax and enjoy the festive season.

Difficulty Sleeping

Stress and anxiety can interfere with sleep, making it difficult to get a restful night. If you’re having trouble sleeping during the holidays, it may be a sign of anxiety. This can cause an individual to have feelings of exhaustion and difficulty functioning during the day.

Managing Holiday Anxiety

If you’re struggling with holiday anxiety, there are several things you can do to manage your symptoms and feel more at ease. 

Set boundaries 

It’s imperative that self-care remains a priority during the holidays and set limits on what you’re willing and able to do. This may mean saying no to invitations or setting aside time for self-care. Setting boundaries can help you prioritize your own well-being and prevent feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.

Practice self-care  

Being intentional about having some personal time during the holidays can help you overcome these moments. This might include activities like exercising, reading, or taking a relaxing bath. Practicing self-care can help you recharge and feel more balanced during a busy and stressful time.

Seek support  

Your most accessible route to help is confiding in a friend, family member, or therapist for support. Talking about your anxiety can help you feel less alone and provide a sense of relief. Support from loved ones can also help you feel more grounded and better equipped to cope with holiday stress.

Engage in relaxation techniques  

There are many relaxation techniques you can try to reduce anxiety, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation. These techniques can help calm your mind and body and provide a sense of relaxation and calm.

Seek professional help  

If your anxiety is severe or becoming a significant impediment in your daily life, we recommend seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapy and medication can be effective in managing anxiety and helping you feel more at ease during the holidays.

Bottom Line

The festive period can be a challenging time for those struggling with anxiety. If you’re experiencing physical symptoms, loss of time and feeling dissociated, unusual behaviors or compulsions, avoidance of certain situations, excessive worry, or difficulty sleeping, it may be a sign that you’re struggling with holiday anxiety. Remember, it’s okay to take care of yourself and seek support if you need it. By practicing self-care, engaging in relaxation techniques, and seeking professional assistance.

Overcome Holiday Anxiety with Evidence-Based Therapy 

Don’t let holiday anxiety bring you down this season! If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, remember that there are ways to manage it and make the holidays more enjoyable. If you’re in the Kitchener Waterloo Region and need a little extra support, our team of licensed and skilled therapists is here to help. We offer evidence-based and clinically proven counseling services to get to the bottom of the issues aggravating your issues. So don’t let anxiety ruin your holidays – book an appointment with us and let us help you get the most out of the festive period this year!