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Tips for Surviving 2020 Holiday Season

Is it the most wonderful time of the year? In many ways, yes, this time of year can bring a lot of joy but also stress in a person. Holiday season expectations hold a lot of weight sometimes and when these expectations are not met then a person is filled with disappointment. However, the concept of someone’s holiday being as perfect as they hope is very unlikely especially now with COVID in the mix. If you are someone who becomes naturally anxious or stressed even with the thought of going to holiday events, you are not alone and that does not make you a “bad person”. Holiday events filled with loved ones can produce these emotions alongside other emotions. You can feel joyful and anxious at the same time. But if you are someone who becomes anxious during the holidays, I have come up with a few helpful tips that can help reduce the stress during the holidays.

The power of code words: When you first hear the word “code words” I know it sounds kiddish but stay with me. At parties, people will start talking about something that can make people uncomfortable. Examples could be your weight, what you’re eating, covid, and politics. Topics that can make any holiday event stressful. Now picture that same party but now you say a code word and the person next to you changes the subject. Stress gone. I suggest the person you tell be someone who feels comfortable stopping conversations. Developing code words can happen a couple of days to hours before the event, all you need to do is have a conversation with this person about how you are feeling and topics that might bring you too much anxiety. A code word can be whatever you wish it to be, but I would probably practice saying it and having the person change a fake topic before going to an actual event!

Bring a mask: This is definitely a new helpful tip this year! I am not going to get political with you on this post. But if you are nervous about Covid and a mask helps reduce these nerves, then wear the mask. You might think you won’t need it but when you get to the party your anxiety starts to creep in, you can always grab and wear it.

Let someone else plate your meal: This tip is mainly for my people who struggle with food on the holidays. There is a lot of food and it can be overwhelming trying to fill your plate with what you need when you are surrounded by so many options. Having a plan with what you want your plate to look like with someone before the meal and then they go and fill it with the portions that you need. This can be very helpful.

Semi-Homemade: Honestly, I am talking to myself in this tip! I love baking/decorating treats I take great pride in it. However, with everything going on during the holiday season I tend to feel overly stressed, and adding a 4-hour baking session only adds to that and takes away all the joy in the actual baking. The tip…buy whatever you are going to bring to the event! No one cares if your portion of the meal is store-bought and if it keeps you focused on having a good time then that is a plus. Target, for example, normally has amazing decorated baked goods for whatever the occasion!

Set a time limit: *This tip will be challenging if you personally do not drive to the event or are going out of town*. I know it feels like you have to stay the entire day at a person’s house because that is what you have always done. But if this causes you intense amounts of stress or anxiety then set a time limit throughout your stay to check in with yourself. If you notice that you are needing to leave or take a break from the amount of people, then develop an exit plan or go outside for a moment by yourself and take some deep breaths.

Do something you enjoy throughout the season: This can bring a little joy throughout the season. Just adding something small such as a specialty coffee or decorating your home. It can make the days in between the holiday events special and fun!

Gratitude: I know, how can I find gratitude in the middle of 2020? When the world around you is stressful and dim it can be hard to find what you are grateful for. I feel like it is also the most important time to search for gratitude. A way to practice this is finding one thing that brought you joy once a day; this can help train your brain to look for gratitude.

If you aren’t going to an event do something fun: If you are unable to do your normal holiday plans, that does not mean you are not allowed to celebrate the season! Do something fun even if it is on a smaller scale!

I hope some of these tips can be helpful during this time and I would like to say Happy Holidays!

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