Avoiding the Holiday Freakout

“Anxiety is my kryptonite.”

Dan Levy

November to January has historically been a very stressful time for me. Anxiety usually starts with Thanksgiving and crescendoes to the grand finale of New Years Day. I obsess about everything imaginable; including getting everyone the perfect gift, cleaning and decorating for company, and simply put, not looking and acting like a fool for holiday gatherings.

When anxiety takes over, it is hard to enjoy our most joyous season. I decided once and for all to tackle my anxiety and celebrate the holidays on “my” terms. Thankfully, I’ve experienced positive results by making a few changes.

Decking the Halls

Holiday decor is a main focus for me. I try to completely transform our home with a tendency to go overboard. But it’s important to keep the atmosphere whimsical and exciting. After all, these are the darkest days of the year and I feel a little levity goes a long way to lighten the mood.

There are only a couple of weeks to transition my decor from the Harvest to the Yule, so I need to plan and organize accordingly.

What makes it easier is that I basically use the same decorations from year to year with only one or two upgrades.

The Universe is Laughing at Me!

Here’s an update to our Thanksgiving decor: Today we were scheduled to have bamboo flooring installed in the bedroom. After Steve spent several days clearing out the bedroom, the installation was aborted mid-job. It was not our fault, nor was it Lowes or the installers. It was just a fluke and now the bedroom furniture will remain scattered throughout the house until after Thanksgiving.

What a mess!

The old me would be having a full-blown meltdown. But, I’m not freaking out. We have so much to be thankful for in our lives and this is just a tiny, laughable bump in the road!


In the past, we hosted dinner parties with our military friends, families and neighbors throughout the season. We had Thanksgiving, Yule, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day celebrations. Although those days were fulfilling and enjoyable, by January 2nd I was always exhausted, 10 pounds heavier and completely depressed.

Now, we only have two scaled-down events, Thanksgiving and our Winter Solstice dinner party. They are low-key, fun, and something that I totally look forward to. Of course Steve does all the cooking, so I have no complaints!


Buying presents was always a source for anxiety, particularly with my grandchildren. I’ve spent way too many hours obsessing over what might possibly be their perfect gifts.

This year, however, I am stealing a page from my parents’ playbook. I’m giving them all money. Everyone gets the same dollar figure, regardless of age. Also, I’m completely out of touch with teenagers. This way, they can buy what they really want, and I have saved myself a ton of anxiety.

Others on my list are getting a holiday floral centerpiece and/or wine.

And just like that, gift-giving anxiety has disappeared!

Other Anxiety Reducers That Work for Me

“Every night, I have to read a book, so that my mind will stop thinking about things that I stress about.”

Britney Spears

No matter how stressful the day is, I can always regroup completely by reading every night before I go to bed. I enjoy mysteries and thrillers.

For me, the best way to squelch holiday anxiety is continue daily walks outside, weather permitting. We get plenty of fresh air walking our dog every day. I find shoveling snow to be very therapeutic and calming, as well.

I have a couple of holiday-related jigsaw puzzles that I look forward to assembling each year. Puzzling keeps one of my mother’s holiday traditions alive. She always bought the family a puzzle to work on during Christmas vacation.

And if all Else Fails…

WINE. There’s always wine.

If not wine, then Jack.

Bring on the holidays; I’m ready!

I’ve become a lot more zen for the holidays, and all it took was a little bit of restructuring my holiday mindset. Part of my problem was that I was celebrating the wrong holiday. Last year, with the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing, I was able to break away from all the commercialistic garble and truly align my beliefs with my celebrations.

I hope your holiday season is stress-free. But if it isn’t, I hope my ideas help you to take back the joy in your celebrations.

Thank you for reading! – Barb, the River Blogger (Btrb)

Let’s scale down “things” and scale up joy!

Feel free to reblog anything I post. I welcome all comments and discussion.


  1. Another nice read. And one I can really understand. Been promising myself for years “this will be THE year I enjoy the music, the sugar cookies, the tinsel, and the eggnog. Yup, still working on it. And this year to boot scuttled eggnog with its obligatory bourbon. Good read.

  2. Awwww. I love the holiday season with you! Here’s to our first holiday apart 🍷 Thank you for letting me commandeer your holiday for my nuptials 👰🏼‍♀️🤵🏻‍♂️

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