For some people, Thanksgiving is a time of gathering and gratitude.  Families get together, delicious food is eaten, games are played, and the sounds of the parade and football games fill the house. And our Atlanta anxiety therapists know, this is not the case for all families.

For others, Thanksgiving is a time of anxiety.  Going to the family home triggers memories of trauma. Preparing to host is exhausting for weeks before the event.  Family members who don’t get along spend time preparing for proximity. The other family members prepare for the discord of differing politics or unhealthy behavior that was never addressed. 

If your experience is more like the second example, our Atlanta anxiety therapist wants to validate you.  Holidays can be (and are often) hard for many reasons. Sometimes those reasons lie with the people you’re expected to spend time with. We have some tips for navigating your anxiety this Thanksgiving.

Explore the Anxiety

Ask yourself what is bringing on the anxiety.  Are you worrying that your aunt will have too much to drink and try to drive home and you’ll have to manage it?  Are you anticipating a political blowup?  Are you anticipating that mean family member yet again saying critical things to you all day long?

Is the idea of returning to your childhood home bringing up some uneasiness?  Maybe the stress of hosting several people in an already busy season has you worried about how things are going to get done.

Understanding your anxiety can help you determine what you need to do (or not do) in order to feel better.  Therapy can help in this process.

Explore Your Thoughts

You may also have some negative thoughts and beliefs driving the anxiety.  ‘Fortune telling’ is a common distorted thought; people do this when they say that they know something is going to happen. For example, “I just know I’m going to have to defend my politics to my uncle even if I avoid it.”

Another common distorted thought is ‘mind reading.’ An example of this would be believing “Everyone is going to think I’m going nowhere with my life.”

Research shows that challenging and reframing our thoughts can help with anxiety. Our Atlanta anxiety therapist can help you explore where your anxiety is originating and help you learn to manage it in a healthy way.

Create New Traditions

Sometimes plans and traditions work until they don’t.  If there is something that’s no longer working for you, start to dream about how you’d change it. 

Stressed about the time and energy it takes to host?  Suggest a potluck or plan to order out. 

Exhausted by trying to make it to 3 different Thanksgiving celebrations on the same day?  Plan to visit only one.  It is not your responsibility to manage everyone else’s feelings about it.

Uneasy about going back to your childhood home?  Tell your family you love them but you need to stay home this year. 

Seek Out Therapy

If you are experiencing anxiety about the holiday, contact our Atlanta anxiety therapist.  They can help you explore the anxiety and teach you techniques and strategies to manage it. Therapy can help you figure out where and what your boundaries need to be.  We want to support you in your pursuit of health and healing.  Call us today.