The holidays can be a stressful time for people. It’s crucial to have an empathetic understanding of the lesser-known signs that may indicate someone is experiencing anxiety. Despite the general association of this time of year with joy and celebration, many individuals face stress and unease.
While some have taken steps to address their holiday-induced anxieties, many remain oblivious to their seasonal angst. To support those who might not be aware of their anxieties, we shed light on ten less recognized symptoms and signs to raise awareness about the challenges people encounter during the holidays.
- Excessive planning and over-thinking: Those who experience anxiety related to the holidays sometimes take their planning to an extreme level. They dedicate an excessive amount of time obsessing over every minute detail or attempting to anticipate every possible outcome. Although this behavior stems from a desire to create the perfect holiday experience, it ultimately leads to heightened levels of stress.
- Difficulty making decisions: The pressure surrounding choices like gift selections or selecting a menu for a holiday meal often exacerbates indecisiveness during this time of year. This indecisiveness contributes further to feelings of anxiety and frustration.
- Extreme perfectionism: For those with anxiety, striving for impeccable decorations or memorable experiences can be overwhelming. While perfectionism is often viewed positively, it can become burdensome during the holidays, resulting in increased stress levels and self-criticism.
- Fear of disappointing others: High expectations from houseguests, family members, and loved ones can generate significant anxiety during this period. Individuals may harbor concerns about their ability to meet these expectations or worry that their efforts will fall short, leading to heightened stress levels and excessive people-pleasing behaviors.
- Social anxiety at parties or gatherings: Some individuals with anxiety dread attending social events during the holidays due to pressures associated with small talk and meeting new people. They may feel self-conscious or excessively concerned themselves with being judged by others.
- Physical symptoms: Anxiety manifests in various physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive disturbances, muscle tension, jaw clenching, or even exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions. Recognizing these symptoms as potential signs of anxiety can aid individuals in seeking appropriate support.
- Difficulty in setting boundaries: The holiday season often entails an influx of social obligations and increased demands on time and energy. For individuals with anxiety, establishing boundaries and saying “no” can prove particularly challenging, resulting in heightened stress levels.
- Heightened sensitivity: Some people with holiday-related anxiety may find themselves more sensitive to environmental triggers like bright lights, loud noises, or crowded spaces. These triggers can exacerbate anxiety symptoms and contribute to feelings of unease.
- Obsessive focus on others’ needs: Individuals with holiday-related anxiety may inadvertently neglect their well-being as they excessively worry about ensuring everyone else is content and comfortable. This self-neglect reinforces feelings of anxiety and increases the risk of burnout.
- Post-holiday letdown: It’s not unusual for certain individuals to experience a significant letdown after the conclusion of holiday celebrations, feeling deflated or even depressed. This post-holiday anxiety often stems from unmet expectations or exhaustion from previous weeks’ efforts.
Recognizing the lesser-known signs of anxiety during the holidays cultivates empathy, understanding, and support for those who struggle during this time of year. By fostering a more inclusive and nurturing environment, we can alleviate some of the stress and contribute to a more enjoyable holiday season for all individuals involved.