Anxiety is so confusing. For the person who has it, it means feeling overwhelmed and scared seemingly out of nowhere. It means the simplest of tasks – like making a phone call – become insurmountable obstacles that drain the sufferer of energy and leave them feeling sad and incompetent. For their friends and family, it can mean feeling confused by the person’s actions, wondering why they won’t come for a visit or pick up the phone. At worst, anxiety can make those around us feel ignored.
The December holidays can only serve to make anxiety worse. Being surrounded by people asking personal questions and having to put on a happy face when you feel like crying can be so overwhelming for someone with anxiety that they might avoid family or friend gatherings all together. So, if you know someone this year who is struggling, here are some ways you can make them feel more comfortable and let them know you’re on their side.
- Let you friend or family member know that they’re always invited, even if they can’t gather the energy to show up.
- Don’t take your friend’s actions personally. Give the person space to reach out to you later.
- Find a time to get together one on one, somewhere your friend feels safe.
- Suggest getting together in January, when the pressure to fit everything into a few short weeks is off.
- Find out what method of contact works best for your friend – maybe it’s texting, maybe it’s Facetime – and stick to it.
- Don’t make the person feel bad for missing out on a get together. Being reminded how much the person missed might make them feel worse.
- If the person does decide to come to a party this holiday, make sure they know you’re glad they made it, even if it means they need to leave early or watch the festivities from a distance.
Finally, whether you suffer from Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, or you know someone who does, keep in mind that the December holidays will come and go like any other season. With proper treatment, and the support of friends and family, the days ahead can feel brighter from the inside out.