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New Delhi: While we all talk about the festive cheer and the happiness that the holiday season brings in, there are many people who suffer from ‘festive anxiety’ in silence. The condition can be very painful as you feel anxious when everyone around you is supposedly happy and celebrating.

Dhruv (name changed) is a young college student who feels very nervous at social events. But he knows that if he does not attend festival parties and celebrations, he would appear weird to his classmates. The pressure to appear outgoing and cheerful is so much that he attends quite a few events in spite of his anxiety worsening significantly.

Similarly, Kavita (name changed), the holidays mean going out for a vacation, looking good so that the photos are ‘Insta-worthy’ and then trying to make sure her social accounts reflect how happy she is and what a good time she is having. The pressure of appearing very happy and successful on social media makes the holidays quite stressful for her. She actually feels quite relieved when life is back to its daily grind.

REASONS FOR SUFFERING FESTIVE ANXIETY

Apart from happiness and excitement, the festive season can also kick in a variety of emotions among people. “For some, the unavoidable socialization that festivals bring provokes intense anxiety. For others, the pressure of projecting a certain image on social media takes a toll. There are also people for whom festive occasions mean an increased workload at home while the rest of the family enjoys it,” says Dr Preeti Parakh, Psychiatrist and Head, Mpower The Centre, Kolkata.

She also explains that the holiday season can also trigger emotions of loneliness, homesickness or bring back memories of loved ones who are no more to individuals.

Depending upon your economic circumstances, festivities can mean a huge strain on many people’s wallets.

HOW TO COPE WITH FESTIVE ANXIETY

Whatever be the reason behind the festive anxiety, below are some tips by By Dr Preeti Parakh to help you cope with it this festive season:

1.    Say no to activities that are anxiety-provoking. If it is not possible to avoid certain events, curtail the time spent there so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

2.    Plan for the holidays well in advance. Whether it is buying gifts or making holiday travel plans, make detailed lists and avoid last minute surprises which can be difficult to deal with.

3.    Stick to the budget. Decide on the amount that you can comfortably spend on your new clothes or on gifts and do not overshoot it. Start shopping well ahead of the holidays so that there is no last-minute rush.

4.    Accept the way you are. Do not feel pressurized to conform to the expectations of others. There is nothing wrong in not being a party animal. There is no need to prove on social media that you had a better time than others.

5.    Avoid bingeing on alcohol and drugs. Many people believe that there cannot be any enjoyment without alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, this can cause worsening of anxiety.

6.    Lower your expectations from the holidays. Celebrations and parties are not a must. Travelling to exotic destinations is not mandatory. Holidays can also be spent at home watching television or by getting ahead on the coursework.

7.    Lower your expectations from yourself. Whether it is arranging a dinner party or buying gifts for everyone, ask others to help with the tasks. There is no need to do everything yourself.

8.    Share your problems with friends and family members. They can help you tide over the situations that are especially difficult. Taking a friend to a party provides support and also makes it easier to leave early if required.

9.    Try to stick to the daily routine as much as possible during the holidays. Heavy meals, upset stomachs and late nights can worsen anxiety.

10.    Take professional help if the anxiety is overwhelming. Relaxation exercises like slow deep breathing help in controlling the anxiety. There is also the option of starting medicines or cognitive behavior therapy or both for anxiety.

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