Do you struggle with Anxiety? Most of my life has been overshadowed by this unwanted disorder. If I am very specific the diagnosis is Generalized Anxiety Disorder with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Most of the year I can cope, but at Christmas Time, with the added stress and business of “The Most Wonderful Season” of the year, I nearly break. How can we Keep Joy with anxiety at Christmas Time?
Questions About Anxiety at Christmas Time and Joy
If you have been with HopeJoyInChrits for a while you know that joy is the word God has pressed into my life all year. As we enter this Christmas season He is not relenting. As much as I want to run away (or sleep-away) from all the stress and chaos of the season He is impressing on my heart the need to keep joy even facing anxiety and in the thick of a relapse battle with PTSD.
It is a comfort and a burden to know that you are right here with me… struggling to access His joy even though it is 12 inches below our mind! Anxiety at Christmas is hard! Let’s look at some common questions before we dig into solutions to the conflict within.
- Why does Christmas give me anxiety?
- Why do I get anxious at Christmas?
- How do I deal with my anxiety at Christmas?
- Why is my anxiety worse on holiday?
- Are boundaries godly?
Related Post: How to Have Joy in Every Trial and Please God
Why Does Christmas Give Me Anxiety?
Why do I get anxious at Christmas? For a lot of years, this floored me. I love parts of Christmas. Christmas music, the beauty, and creativity of the decorations, Christmas food, all give me moments of happiness. So why does Christmas give me anxiety?
Expectations. I think that one word is at the heart of the conflict within. I want Christmas to be magical and nostalgic. Some moments it is, but then reality sets in, and it’s gone.
I miss people. Some people have passed on into glory and though I am happy for them I miss their presence most at Christmas. Others have chosen distance and even though I know it’s best that we stay apart I miss them – or rather the fantasy of a healthier version of them.
Expectations and grief, knowing that they are coming, bring me great anxiety and can trigger my PTSD.
Why is My Anxiety Worse on Holiday?
Another trigger for anxiety can be change. Whether we are talking about the holiday season or going on vacation we are talking about changes.
The house changes for Christmas. I don’t know about you, but there is no room for a 6-foot tree in my living room. To accommodate, furniture has to move and things have to transplant to other rooms. The already cluttered house feels almost claustrophobic for weeks.
The schedule changes. We are already busy, but from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve there are extra events to fit into the calendar. Family to see, friends to visit, kids pageants to rehearse for, church events to prepare for. Change.
Even the food changes. Healthy foods are not popular and junk food is everywhere. My digestive system does not thank me for any of that change!
Change makes my anxiety worse on holiday!
How Do I Deal with My Anxiety at Christmas?
So this is why we are here. How do we deal with anxiety at Christmas time?
Here’s the thing. Mental illness is not like any other illness. Other people can’t see the hurt. They don’t know how to help us and often they deny anxiety is real. So you have to take care of yourself!
I tend to avoid all the talk about self-care and self-love that circulates so often. Mostly because I think we can head the wrong way with it and become too self-focused. I always want to love selflessly and give freely of my life to bless others. But it would be selfish of me to give away so much leaving nothing left to care for myself and others.
Let me repeat that in case you were skimming.
It is pointless to give away so much of yourself that you have nothing left to care for others with!
Related Post: Why I Broke the Silence About Anxiety in My Life
Is it Biblical to Set Boundaries?
There is much debate about boundaries in Christian circles, but I see it demonstrated best by Jesus Himself.
In Scripture, we see Jesus healing and preaching often. Afterward, He often needs to get away by Himself to recharge with God – this is a beautiful model of self-care. Then in Luke, we see Jesus set a clear boundary. He knows He could spend His entire life healing, which would be wonderful, but He actually has a calling to pursue to protect.
“When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42-44 NASB)
Jesus clearly saw the value in setting boundaries and doing what He knew was best.
What Boundaries Help with Anxiety at Christmas?
Okay, so Jesus set boundaries, which tells us it is good to set boundaries in our own lives. How do we begin? Know your limitations and set clear stops a bit before them so you stay healthy. To give you an idea, here are some of the boundaries in my life:
- Not overscheduling the month.
- Schedule a family night each week without any activities out.
- Saying “No” to events that are usually filled with drama.
- Keeping to a normal sleep routine.
- Shopping all year so we don’t have to be out in all the chaos.
These are just some of the boundaries that help me while dealing with anxiety at Christmas. They keep me calm, help avoid the triggers of my PTSD and let us still enjoy all the fun!
How to Manage Anxiety at Christmas in 5 Steps
Knowing what boundaries look like is only one piece of managing anxiety through the holidays. There are actually 5 steps I follow to fight depression and anxiety at Christmas head-on!
- Set firm boundaries
- Don’t be alone
- Fis your eyes on Jesus
- Trust in the Lord more
1. Set Firm Boundaries
I will say – emphatically – know and accept your limitations. Then place firm boundaries around them to take care of yourself. Firm boundaries are key to keeping joy with anxiety and PTSD all year long but especially at Christmas.
When anxiety is a part of your life there are limitations. When you suffer from PTSD those limitations insert themselves without notice and affect those we live with.
If you need help setting boundaries comment below and we can chat through some ideas to get you started.
Related Post: How to Claim the Power of Peace of Mind with Anxiety
2. Don’t Be Alone At Christmas
One of my boundaries is to avoid events where there are people who regularly bring drama. That means we don’t go to some of the family Christmas parties. It does NOT mean we avoid all people. Even if you have social anxiety at Christmas, being alone will only make things worse!
Joy comes when we are refreshed with love from others!
“For I have had great joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.” (Philemon 1:7 NASB)
As tempting as it may be to just hide until January and avoid people, it will steal your joy.
- Find a friend and go out for lunch.
- Invite a family you enjoy over for a dinner and game night.
- Go caroling with a group (whether you sing well or not)!
Don’t be alone.
“He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.” (Proverbs 18:1 NASB)
3. Fix Your Eyes on the Lord to Keep Joy
I don’t know about you, but my anxiety intensifies when I focus on all the chaos. If I take the time to look to God – pray it out, find a verse to calm down – the anxiety will calm.
“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 NASB)
Even if it doesn’t go away, I can still keep Joy. Yes even in the midst of anxiety attacks and outbursts of PTSD that just won’t relent.
Anxiety can be a controlling force in life. You are not alone in this struggle.
I put together a 40-day reading & journaling plan with many of the verses I go to when anxiety overwhelms me. Read about it here ~> 40 Bible Verses to Overcome Anxiety: FREE Reading and Journaling Guide
4. Trust in The Lord More
More than just keeping my eyes fixed upon God, I need to trust Him. Trusting God when anxiety takes hold is tough, so I pray more. My prayer, over and over again, is that God will take the anxiety away and heal me of the PTSD. He hasn’t – yet -but I still trust Him.
When I surrender and trust Him over and over again He fills me with Joy!
“The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 28:7 NASB)
One way I keep my trust in the Lord is through meditating on His Word. See these 6 Best Devotionals for Anxiety Reading it daily and journaling through it! I created a Kit to Help you get started with that. Check it out below!
What’s included in the Bible Journaling Took Kit?
- A 30 Day Reading plan
- Journaling prompts
- 3 Pages of Doodling templates
- 1 sheet of margin strips
- 1 sheet of Bible Verse Cards
- Detailed instructions about how to Get started Bible Journaling
5. Sing to Keep Joy with Anxiety at Christmas Time
Okay, Okay, I know everyone is not a lover of music. But Y’all, God loves music. I will battle that out with anyone. He made all of His creation to sing and worship Him.
He repeatedly tells us to sing praise to Him, and make a joyful noise to Him.
I believe God loves it when we sing, even if it sounds awful!
Song- an expression of worship – pleases God according to Psalm 47:1. It is just one form of worship, but it has a way of pulling us out of our mental state and helping us take a step forward.
I’d love to know your favorite worship song right now. Of course, we are in the midst of Christmas Music. You can check out my Christmas Worship Playlist on YouTube here.
Related Post: How to Praise God in Anxiety and Find Peace
Will You Use The 5 Steps to Keep Joy with Anxiety at Christmas?
Anxiety at Christmas is a real challenge, yes even for Christians. Many times, well-meaning believers counsel me that my anxiety is a result of a lack of faith or is a sign of sin in my life. I’ve spent so much time with the Lord over this and I just can’t believe those things are true. Acting in that anxiety maybe, but just having it – no.
There is hope, you can manage your anxiety. These are 5 steps I use to keep joy at Christmas and I pray they help you on this journey.
- Set firm boundaries
- Don’t be alone
- Fis your eyes on Jesus
- Trust in the Lord more
Which will you try this holiday season?
If this helped, you will love these posts:
- The Year I Told God No About Anxiety
- 4 Simple Ways to Find Hope and Joy While Battling Anxiety
- How to Keep Joy When Anxiety Is in a Christian Marriage