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All I Want for Christmas Is…a Lot Less Anxiety

Holiday Anxiety is a shinier, fancier, more horrible version of Everyday Anxiety—less sleep, more worry, never-ending questioning, followed by a funk I can’t put into words. If you love someone who battles this holiday monster, take a breath and love her even harder.

Hey, Holiday Anxiety. I’ve grown accustomed to your sister, Everyday Anxiety. She’s pretty bad. But you are a life-ruiner, a magic-stealer, a joy-thief. I hate you.

The week before Thanksgiving, you make your grand entrance with worry, lumpy mashed potatoes, and sweaty fear. You are my constant, unwanted companion until you finally go home for the year—sometime around January 6—leaving behind nothing but pine needles and the remains of my self-esteem. Seriously, I hate you.

I wish people who have never met you could understand that you take no prisoners. You don’t know the meaning of words like grace or mercy. I wish they knew how it felt in the pit of my stomach, the physical ache that accompanies all of the times when I am positive I’m screwing everything up. For instance:

  • “I’m sure my rolls will burn, and no one wants to eat Thanksgiving without dinner rolls. We might as well cancel the entire gathering. People won’t want to look at me anyway. I’ve gained weight and my messy mom bun looks less like a cute mom and more like a wreck.”
  • “I forgot to move the Elf on the Shelf! Great. I’ve ruined the magic of Christmas. My kids are going to be devastated, and it’s my fault. They’ll know! They’ll find out about Santa because I forgot about the dang Elf, and they’ll never believe me, no matter what I try to make up.”
  • “How will we visit both sides of the family for Christmas?! And, can my husband miss all those days of work? It’s so expensive to travel, but we miss everyone and want to see them. I’ll tell everyone not to get me anything. I don’t deserve a gift anyway.”
  • “Will people show up on time? How early should I have things ready!? Oh, my house is a complete disaster. Everyone will wonder what I spend my time doing while I’m at home with the kids. I should’ve asked my sister to host. She has a nicer home and more space. People would have a better time there.”

[Free Download: Managing Your Time During the Holidays]

I wish people could hear what plays on a loop in my brain, all thanks to Holiday Anxiety. It is relentless and ferocious and eviscerates my joy and confidence. Holiday Anxiety is like a shinier, fancier, more horrible version of the regular kind—less sleep, more worry, never-ending questioning, followed by a funk I can’t explain.

If you love someone who battles this holiday monster, take a breath and love her harder. She will likely resist. I know this brand of crazy eats at you more than most, but remember how much she needs you.

Hear me when I say that those who succumb to Holiday Anxiety need a hug. We need a meal. We need a coffee or a glass of wine. We need a girls’ night out. We need an excuse to leave the house. We need an opportunity to remember who we really are, under the gruesome mask of Holiday Anxiety.

Whatever you do, please don’t question us, refuse to acknowledge this as a real condition, or assume we are putting on some kind of a show for attention. I promise that people who are struggling would give their left arm to never feel like this again, to actually be able to enjoy the holidays. Sadly, that concept is foreign and fleeting for us.

[Beating the Holiday Blues]

3 Comments & Reviews

  1. As I read the article….first of all nodding my head in agreement, I wonder if it’s related to our ego and thinking that we have to do everything perfectly or else we will be negatively judged or we are trying to avoid guilt. If you think about it, we don’t have the kind of power that we think we do. Actually, what can ruin Christmas for someone is being neurotic to the point of taking the joy out of the holiday which is suppose to be about family and friends. This year, I am oddly calm and keeping it simple. My family adopted a puppy (which certainly keep things real with lack of sleep) but that is our Christmas gift to each. Extended family is getting cookies. If anyone thinks, “well, that’s lame”….I don’t think I’m the one with the problem. For my fellow ADD’ers, let yourself off the hook and please join me in not making ourselves neurotic trying to please everyone else because we are trying to avoid feel guilt or thinking we have the power to make the holidays “magic” for someone else (including our kids). All I remember is my mother (who has ADD) making herself neurotic and exhausted. I choose to do things differently.

  2. I’m so looking forward to December 28th.
    I grew to hate Christmas between eight and twelve. I was growing up and not into toys as much as worrying about the gifts I gave. I was so scared what I gave was not going to make them happy. They wouldn’t like my gift. They would be disappointed, put my gift down and admire the gifts from people who knew exactly what to give. I never knew it was ADHD until I was 58.
    This year my calendar is stripped down with Christmas activities but I feel just as anxious. Still overwhelmed. Dread. I don’t know what to buy my husband. I’ll end up buying too many things trying to get at least one he may enjoy. My mom will quietly put her presents away never to be used. She will try not to hurt my feelings. I procrastinated with most gifts because I am still overwhelmed. I so want to make everyone happy. Such a burden. Most of this I know is in my head because no one in my family is materialistic and just enjoy the family gathering.
    I need to take a dish to my sisters for Christmas dinner. What to make? It won’t turn out right. No one will eat it. I won’t make anyone happy with my ruined casserole either. I always put on my fake happy face starting Christmas Eve. I don’t want to spoil everyone else’s Christmas. It’s incredibly exhausting, that smile. I’ll be overly bubbly and increase my exhaustion. The day after I’m still worrying my son doesn’t like that shirt, phone case or anything. I’m worn out.
    Around December 28th I will take a deep breath, shrug off my blanket of dread and anxiety, give thanks that it’s over and put on Christmas music. I can now enjoy the music. Happy, fun joyful music. Just sing along joyfully while admiring my beautiful decorations.

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