As you know, I'm a huge advocate for getting the word out about anxiety. But did you know that holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving can actually make anxiety worse, in some retrospect? A lot of people don't know why. In fact, I didn't know why until we learned that Twin had severe anxiety.
Those with anxiety crave routines. With a routine, someone who anxiety will know how to handle a slight hiccup instead of a major catastrophe. When the holidays come around, their routines are thrown for a loop and they don't know how they're going to handle it.What do you do for someone you know who suffers? Do what my family does - small routines and things to do to keep the mind busy. Choose every day things to add to a routine (like wrapping gifts or baking treats) so that when it comes time to make big dinners or wrapping last minute gifts, the anxiety sufferer will feel more confident in doing those things.
For someone with social anxiety, being at a holiday get-together is their nightmare come true. Let them be a wallflower. Don't throw them into the lion's den (so to speak). Pushing them too far could actually break them. Let them socialize on their own. If you have anxiety, don't feel like you have to mingle. You can answer any questions, but only if you feel comfortable enough.
If you suffer, don't feel like you have to make the tree or the decorations perfect for fear of critique. Let your creative juices flow, and decorate how you want it to look. If it makes you happy to have lights on the porch instead of the bushes, go for it!
When it comes to giving gifts, this is probably one of those where their anxiety level is pretty high. They fear rejection of the gift. If you don't like it, don't say, "I hate this!". That is one way to drive the anxiety higher, and that is dangerous. They may never give gifts again. Instead, don't lie and say you love it. Just find one thing you actually like about the gift and you will eventually learn to love the gift.
Example of Christmas Zentangle (Created by Mariska den Boer 69)
For general anxiety attacks during the holidays not directly related to a situation, you can listen to Christmas music, watch a Christmas movie, go online window shopping, or create a Christmas zentangle! (By the way, zentangles have helped Twin when she is having a bad anxiety day.)
Oh, and if you are a friend of someone who suffers from an degree of anxiety and it's worse during the holidays, just be there for them!
For those that suffer, if you need to talk about your holiday anxiety, talk about it with a trusted friend. You may get a fresh perspective that may ease your mind.