‘Tis the season for good food, snow, family gatherings, and… performance anxiety?Yes, performance anxiety is very real, even during the holiday season. It actually could be even worse for some people during this time.

There’s a certain expectation that everyone is supposed to be happy and festive during the holidays, and this can feel like a lot of pressure—pressure to be energetic, jolly, and social. If this isn’t necessarily your typical demeanor, you know first-hand how anxiety-inducing this pressure can be.
Do you suffer from performance anxiety during the holidays? You’re not alone.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat and overcome your anxiety so you can enjoy the holidays as much as possible!

Considering Why You Feel Anxious

The best way to address any form of anxiety is to first understand where it stems from.
What exactly about the holiday season makes you anxious? Maybe the socialization aspect is scary to you or you feel stressed about finding the perfect gifts for your friends and family. Or perhaps you crack under the pressure of maintaining a consistently jolly façade.
Whatever your reason is for having anxiety, it’s important for you to fully understand why. Do you fear socialization because you’re afraid of saying something wrong? Are you afraid of judgment from your distant relatives?
When you really hone down on the source of your anxiety, you can better determine which steps to take to handle it.

Combating Your Anxiety

So, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what makes you anxious during the holidays. It’s important to remind yourself that anxiety is irrational. Why? Because your festering worries are never as bad as they seem. If you constantly remind yourself of this, you’re already off to a great start of combating your anxiety.
However, knowing your anxiety is irrational doesn’t necessarily stop it from happening. If you’re in a situation where you feel your anxiety flaring up, don’t be afraid to step away for a moment. Go into another room, take a breath, and rejoin the festivities at your own pace.
You do not have to be completely festive at all times, nor do you have to put on a jolly façade. You’re allowed to take a breather and separate yourself from the cause of your anxiety until it passes.
The best thing you can do for yourself this holiday season is to be patient and kind—you will get through it!

Seeking Help for Performance Anxiety

If you are the type who gets especially anxious during the holidays, now would be a great time to seek support. A therapist can help you sort through your anxieties and further understand why you tend to have such a distorted view of having to perform during the holidays. So, then, by the time those festivities roll around, you’ll feel much more equipped to handle your anxiety when it does occur.
Furthermore, you can also inform close friends and family members that the holidays are a particularly anxious time for you. This way, if you do feel anxious during a family gathering or party, you will have allies who understand what you’re going through. They can even run interference for you when you feel particularly anxious in a situation.
Believe it or not, holiday performance anxiety is quite common, and there’s absolutely no reason to feel shame for seeking help.
The holidays are inevitably on the horizon. And this means there will be parties, dinners, and a lot of gift-giving. If you tend to get anxious, don’t forget what it’s all about. Remember that the holidays are a time for love and gratitude and to reconnect with loved ones, not about performing to anyone’s expectations.

Take the first step…

If you fear that your anxiety will get in the way of enjoying the holidays, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT