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Holiday survival guide during pandemic. 5 tips to ease anxiety

Holiday season is here, and it is exciting, isn't it? For many of us it is indeed so, but for some it's a very stressful time, that we really want to enjoy but simply can't. Many things happened this year, and I can see that people are ready for the New Year to come. Hence early preparations, that can be anxiety provoking. Anxiety comes from having to make many decisions, but also because holidays are associated with family gatherings and money spending. This year it's even more stressful due to pandemic.

In this post I want to share with you 5 tips that can help with holiday anxiety during this unsettling time. Of course, there can be different reasons for someone's unease, but here I am talking about the most common ones. Later, on my blog I will talk about how to "survive" holiday season alone, as it's something many of you will probably have to deal with. Stay tuned. Now, let's get into the tips. 

1. Give from your heart

It's the uncertainty that is tearing us apart and causes flares of anxiety and depression during this time. We try to be more mindful about our purchases, and if anything, the coronavirus pandemic has taught us that we can be happy with less. However, holidays can still be stressful, because we feel like we want to give the best presents to people we love. At least, I am this way. I am sure, that many of you can relate. What to do if you don't have money, or you can't spend the same amount as you did last year? These questions can be accompanied with guilt and shame, as in our society today gifts can tell a lot about you as a person, including how much you actually care about someone. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I would like to remind you that price you pay for gifts doesn't equal the amount of love you have for people. And if they fail to realize it, it should be their problem. Give from your heart. Use your creativity. Let the amount of time and thought you spent coming up with a gift show how much you care. It can be DIY project or even a thoughtful card with words you always wanted to say, but never did. I know, it might feel awkward to "only give a card", but I want you to know that people who care about you will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

If you don't feel like being creative, consider opening up and just tell others that you are struggling. It's not an easy time for anyone, and your loved ones will keep it in mind if they care about you. Remember, that showing vulnerability is not weakness, it also tells people you care about them enough to be honest with them. 

2. Learn to say no and respect those who say no to you

This time is not safe for social gatherings because of Coronavirus. I understand that people still want to spend time with each other, especially this year, after having to self-isolate, etc. But if you happen to be one of those people who simply does not feel like exposing themselves, or you are worried you can potentially be the reason for your loved ones to get sick, don't hesitate to say no to family celebrations. If you are not a "no-person", this time is perfect to become one

Maybe you have other reasons why you don't want to go anywhere on holidays, that's ok as well. I know it’s hard to call your family or friends and tell them you are not going to attend their event this year, but at the end of the day you are just one call away from not doing what you don't want to do. Learn to prioritize yourself and know what's best for you. Relationship do sometimes require "sacrifice" of your time, but you can always pick and choose how you want to give it. Don't feel pressured to celebrate if you don't really feel like celebrating, especially this year.

If you are the one hosting an event, please understand there are people, who are very serious about CDC guidelines. If they can't come to your party, don't think they don't care about you. They probably do more than you think, and they also care about themselves. Respect their boundaries. It will help not to get offended and to stay calm.


3. Celebrate on your own terms

If you are a person who still wants to celebrate holidays in non-traditional way, then get creative. Of course, there are wonderful traditions, but I truly believe it's allowed to come up with your own as well. For example, we don't eat turkey in my household, so there will be none. But there will be something else. The rule is that it should be something special, something I don't usually cook. It’s not a big change, but you get what I mean.

It can make us anxious when we feel we always should follow the rules. But honestly, holidays are meant to be fun, so try to have fun, your version of fun.

4. Be grateful

Holidays should be about being grateful. Actually, not only holidays. But often we forget that at the end of the day what matters the most isn't the amount of presents we give or receive but remembering how much we already have in our lives. It's a great time to stop and think one more time about our health, our home, our family and friends, our inner strength. These things are often taken for granted, but they are the ones that truly matter. Don't let the outside noise ruin your ability to be thankful for simple (or not so simple) things in life.

5. Lower expectations

This year's holidays will be different, and many of us are sad about it. We still want everything to be perfect or same as it used to be, but no matter how hard it is to accept, we better work on lowering our expectations.

What I find helpful is focusing on things that I can control, instead of stressing about what's already been happening. I know things are not going to be the same this year. I might not have a super festive holiday season, but I will do my best to make it as festive as I can and appreciate what I have. Remember, in most cases you can create happiness inside. It's about changing the perspective. 

What can you do to make this time enjoyable? What can you control in this situation? No matter what it is, focus on that and once again, be grateful.

I hope you found this article helpful, guys. Let me know how you are going to deal with holiday stress and anxiety, I am curious to read. Until next time on Pillows&Trees.