Here’s how to not feel overwhelmed in a high-pressure time of year

I don’t know about you, but the thought of the holidays is stressing me out.

For years, my greatest fear has been a wave of anxiety that I may have ahead of me as the holidays roll around. Each year I focus on my plans and goal of enjoying the holiday season without total panic.

After years of getting by by making awesome plans, this year I’m feeling a bit down because I have no plans at all.

Once you give in to your anxiety, you can end up feeling paralyzed. As long as you continue to push through those anxiety bubbles, they’ll slowly dissipate. But if you decide to dismiss your panic and push forward, that will cause you to feel even more isolated and emotional.

Here are some tips that have helped me get through the holidays without anxiety as well as hints to offer others going through the same thing this year.

Make a plan

Understand that just because you have no plans now doesn’t mean you don’t want to enjoy the holidays.

Too many people around you this time of year feel pressure to get their presents done ahead of schedule, so put a plan in place to ensure you stay on track with your plans. Share a schedule with people and also keep a schedule of time for work-related projects, errands, cooking, or other things that keep you feeling busy.

Stay connected

This is a hard one for people with social anxiety, but it can sometimes be the most important thing to do. Remember that it’s okay to stay offline this holiday season.

Though we might all be preoccupied with plans, we don’t need to get updates on how others are doing during the holidays. A person with social anxiety may not want to hear about others’ achievements. It’s better to send a text or to connect via social media like Facebook or Instagram.

Have an exit strategy

If it starts to seem like everyone is being invited into your life, you may not be able to make plans. Use the holidays as an opportunity to be alone or find other ways to relax.

Find activities you can do on your own that you enjoy. Perhaps a walk along the Potomac, taking a bike ride, or just doing some research into your hobbies or interests. Don’t forget to add social activities into your already packed schedule!

Acceptance is important

Be prepared for the worst and hopefully will avoid anxiety-inducing situations.

If you’re planning to be alone, accept it with grace and understand that you will feel better once you’re alone. If you’re not interested in hosting a large party, don’t worry about it either. You may feel awkward or alone at times, but accept it. It’s going to happen, so don’t make it overwhelming.

Avoid overexerting yourself

Trying to make too many plans and trying to get through them all can lead to burnout, which can make you miserable.

Instead of forcing yourself to experience everything, choose your favorite activities over trying to do everything. Plan a date night for a special person and keep your calendar clear for the rest. Keep your priorities in order!

Always keep yourself calm

This one might feel counterintuitive, but if you can stay calm, things will go well.

If you have a special someone in your life and you plan to be intimate with them, relax by laying out some basics, such as not making kissy faces or kissing too much. If you find yourself annoyed by a friend when you try to make plans, give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes it’s not that hard to have a plan. Be flexible and don’t make big plans without making a plan.

Use the right tools

If you’re social anxiety is being brought to the surface and you’re worried about your behavior, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong tools.

One person’s anxiety may not have to be wasted. Take inventory of what you need to do to feel better and whether it’s best to forgo things and wait for the panic to subside. Some people may be better off being able to relax while others may need some more direction about how to feel better.

Author Share my Simon

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