How to Overcome Anxiety At the Holidays

Happiness: Lifestyle

By: // December 3, 2013

Do you struggle with how to overcome anxiety during the holidays? At this festive time of year, with a mounting TO DO list, the stress of getting it all done and the pressure to have a picture-perfect holiday out of a magazine can make even the most resilient among us struggle with anxiety.My friend Ryan Rivera works at the Calm Clinic (Ahhhh!) and is an expert on reducing anxiety. In this special guest post, he shares his helpful insights and tips so you can avoid overwhelm this holiday season.

As the days get shorter and you begin to notice the chill in the air, your thoughts start to turn towards the holidays. Though there’s plenty to look forward to during the holidays—cozy fires, amazing food, getting away from work, and the chance to spend quality time with the extended family, the challenges that often accompany these holiday highlights can land you in an anxious mindset before you know it. The following holiday health strategies will help you to enjoy yourself more and avoid becoming overwhelmed by the challenges of traveling, budgeting, staying fit and making sure everybody gets along with each other this holiday season.

Related: Holiday Gift Guide For Foodie & Fitness Fanatics

Artistic Masterpieces

The most important thing to do is to stay busy. Ideally, you need to make sure that you’re not sitting around, allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by your own thoughts. Art is a great tool to put your thoughts in a positive direction. Drawing and painting allow for an artistic emotional outlet, while also keeping you busy and focused on something that takes time, effort, and your complete attention.

Less Buying, More DIY-ing

Don’t let the stress of gift-buying take away from the true meaning of the holidays. You can give meaningful gifts without breaking the bank, and de-stress in the process. Finding new DIY projects online or at your local library that you can give as gifts helps you stay within the budget and reduce finance-related anxiety. In addition, DIYing may end up providing you with something you actually enjoy doing to get your mind off stress over the holidays.

Make Time for You

Don't let holiday anxiety ruin the season; use these tips instead.

Time off during the holidays gives you a chance to spend time with people you don’t get the chance to spend very much time with ordinarily. What many people don’t realize is that this includes yourself. Take care of your own well being with a soothing soak in a hot bath, a good 20 minutes of meditation each day, or going for a walk in the mornings or evenings. Taking small moments of time where you can connect with yourself is as important to plan as your holiday shopping.

Choose Some Escape Routes

With the whole family gathered together, it can be hard to avoid stepping on other people’s toes—both physically and figuratively speaking. If you find yourself getting irritable, a peaceable excuse to get away and regain your composure can be a good book you’ve been meaning to read or a personal project you want to undertake. Keep your mind happily occupied with constructive activities rather than stewing and creating further tension.

Keep It Simple

If you are concocting big, elaborate plans for everything this holiday—your gifts, meals, all the stops you want to make on your trip—try to simplify, or, in other words, pick your battles. Looking for everything to go exactly according to your perfect plan is a recipe for disaster and most of all, anxiety. For example, plan for one amazing family dinner—instead of trying to make handmade gifts for every person in your entire family, too.

Don’t be your own worst enemy this holiday. Give yourself the gift of a low-stress vacation by focusing on the parts of the holiday you have direct, personal control over, and by making the choices that will keep you in a happy and healthy frame of mind. You’ll find that if you do, you can stop your anxiety once and for all.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera had a significant amount of stress and anxiety over the holidays when he was suffering from regular anxiety symptoms. Now he has information on reducing anxiety at

READ THIS NEXT: Your Healthy Holiday Game Plan

Printed from


on December 16, 2014 at 6:20 PM Reply

While all of this is good advice, it's kind of hard to put into practice if there are no family members or friends to lean upon. I lost my husband 5 years ago to colon cancer & I still cry every day. Our wedding anniversary is on Christmas Eve & it would have been 42 years this year. I don't celebrate Christmas anymore; my way of dealing is to simply ignore the holidays & wait for January. The holidays are just a reminder of all I have lost & will never have again. So I exercise (a lot) by doing the challenges on Challenge Loop, going to the gym, running, anything to get through my days. It works for me.

    on December 17, 2014 at 2:23 PM Reply

    Jeanne - I am so sorry for your loss, especially with your anniversary on Christmas Eve. I do know that our friendships, our relationships can help us to feel less alone and to find moments of joy. Do you have people you can reach out to? I think isolating yourself (not sure if you are) makes things worse. Do you think you could use the holidays to celebrate the life of your husband so you don't feel like you have to just get through them? Hope you don't mind me saying so, just trying to be a friend and offer some help. Hugs to you this season.

(This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)

Send this to a friend