Let’s face it—as fabulous as the holidays are, they can be the most stressful time of year. Between the chaos of travel, the highs and lows of seeing family and friends, buying presents, and everything else, this time of year can cause anxiety in even the least anxiety-prone mind. One excellent way to control your amount of stress during the holiday season is to consider hosting your own event. It may seem counter-intuitive, but there are many benefits to doing so. Here are some benefits and tips to managing your anxiety and hosting your own holiday bash.
Every family has history (sometimes “capital H” History!), and different personalities can clash. One benefit of hosting your own holiday events is conflict management through avoidance. If you know for certain that Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe cannot be in the same room, consider hosting two separate, small events. If you buy food in bulk and prepare things in advance or even make/buy frozen appetizers, you can easily arrange two or more parties with ease. Then you can relax knowing that those conflicts and arguments that seemed unavoidable simply won’t happen.
It’s no secret that making a holiday meal for your whole family is an entire day of work. If you’re hosting more than one party, for any reason, the task of spending that much time in the kitchen can be daunting. A potluck-style party or even an afternoon event where your guests bring their favorite snacks can remove the pressure of slaving for hours over the stove. Another plus to sharing the load of cooking is you make sure your guests have something to eat that they will definitely enjoy. With so many dietary restrictions, popular and necessary, in this day and age, ensuring guests are happy by bringing their own food is a way to lower planning stress and to engage all your partygoers.
Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows that perfectionism is a thing that haunts your every waking minute, especially in stressful situations. Those who suffer from it also know that challenging these thoughts and fixations on perfection are key to overcoming them. You won’t have a perfect party because perfection doesn’t exist. Learn to let yourself off the hook; it’s okay if every room isn’t spotless. Close doors to rooms that you don’t have the energy to tidy up, and keep the lights off or put a trash can in front of the door. People will know not to go in. Decorate simply and don’t worry if your mother or grandmother or Uncle Simon decorates “better.” Simple is elegant and tasteful, and if anyone says otherwise . . . consider them uninvited next time!
Offer Festive Non-Alcoholic Options
It can be intimidating when attending a holiday party in recovery, being the “designated driver,” or even just knowing how certain relatives act when drinking. Whether you’re afraid of being singled out by an overly eager host, feeling pressured by friends or family to drink, or afraid of how your brother will act when he hits the whisky, alcohol can add unnecessary stress to any event. Hosting your own party can immediately relieve those fears. Make it clear on the invitation (whether it’s an e-mail, letter, or text) that there will be plenty of non-alcoholic drink options available. You might even consider not offering alcohol at all – or making a festive punch or eggnog that has far less alcohol than the standard. At the end of the day, recovery/safe driving is far more important than a drink at a holiday get-together. Hosting your own party could allow you to engage in holiday cheer without feeling the pressure of resisting temptation or feeling like others are walking on eggshells around you.
All in all, the notion of hosting a party might seem like a bad idea to someone with anxiety, but it can truly help to lessen stress during what should be a magical time of year. You can spread out the burden with friends and family by hosting it potluck style, make sure conflicting personalities don’t clash, and offer festive, delicious non-alcoholic drinks (whether for recovery purposes or to help keep tempers low from those around you). And by letting go of the need for perfection, you can have a holiday that is painless and maybe even fun.
Guest blogger Jennifer Scott knows how difficult it can be to live with anxiety and depression. She has experienced both since she was in her teens. Today, she writes about the ups and downs of her mental illness on SpiritFinder.org. The blog serves as both a source of information for people with mental illness and a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can come together to discuss their experiences.
First image courtesy of Pixabay