Dec 18, 2015

HOW TO SURVIVE THE HOLIDAYS


The holidays can be a really stressful time, especially for people who deal with anxiety. More specifically, social anxiety. Maybe the holidays to you are pretty chilled out and relaxed, your family is great and you rarely face drama during this time of year. But this is for those who have the dysfunctional family and the toxic family members that come with it. For those who get headaches just thinking about holiday parties and dread the social exchanges even after they're over. 

We came up with a few pieces of advice for those of you who are slightly -or highly- anxious about the holiday season. 

How to deal with irritating questions:
Those questions range from "So... got a boyfriend/girlfriend?", "How's school? What are you gonna do once you graduate?" to the questions about that one person you date 3 years ago that you really don't need a reminder of, to the questions that are more of a critical comment about your life. Those questions usually go along the lines of, "Looks like you've gained weight, have you?"

Something you can do in order to avoid steam shooting out of your ears, after not even being at the party for an hour, is to try and steer the conversation in an other direction.  Pro tip: brush off the question/commentary by asking somewhat personal questions. People usually love talking about themselves and this will make them forget what they were questioning you about. Also, please note that it is not rude to simply tell them that you don't want to talk about said subject. You can think of some key points to talk about instead beforehand to be a little more prepared if you find that helps. 


Consider what you’re stressed about : 
This ties in with the previous point. Try and think about what is making you anxious and stressed. The fear of knowing you will be judged, the fear of saying the wrong thing, of the classic holiday stress, of having to engage with family members that you are not particularly fond of, the list can go on. Also, pinpoint what's the worst that can happen and make a plan for it. So if the worst were to happen, you already have a plan for it, and knowing that makes everything a little bit better. 

Sitting down and finding the reasons behind your stress can help you try and find things you can do to reduce it. 


What to do when you're anxious:
1: Steer clear of alcohol. 
This is pretty a pretty obvious one. People who experience anxiety on a regular basis will naturally forgo the alcohol but if you suddenly feel stressed or anxious and find yourself reaching for it to "loosen up", try avoid getting yourself tipsy/drunk because that will only heighten your stress and anxiety.

2. Breathing exercises.
It is 100% okay to excuse yourself no matter the situation, to go take a breather. You can look up breathing exercises if you feel like you can't control it. There is also this great app that you can get on your phone called 3 Minute Mindfulness -download it here: apple,similar one for android

3. Human stress ball.
Spotting a member in your family that you're comfortable with to stay calm and feel reassured. If you don't have a family member you can go to, have a friend you can text to distract yourself. If you get anxious when people don't answer your text messages immediately, maybe have a backup plan, listening to music or going outside to breathe while you wait. 
  
It is important to know that you can say no and leave conversations/situations that you don't want to partake in. Whether your family will pressure you to drink, dance or criticize how little/much you're eating, you control the situation by reacting to it. You do not have to do something you don't want to do. You might be called a "party pooper" but at least you will have put yourself first which is something to be very proud of!!

Remember to have fun and be safe! Take some time to relax and regenerate before the new year! For those who don't encounter anxiety regularly, remember that everyone has their issues, and to think twice before passing a comment. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it is not validated!

Check out two of our older posts that touch on this subject
22 Thing I'd Tell My Younger Self
It's Okay not to Be Okay

Happy Holidays!

| Daphne & Kristine |
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