How I Handle the Holiday Anger

Holidays and anger seem to go hand in hand! The shopping, cooking, and travel can lead to pressure at this time of year.

I love the holidays and spending time with family and friends. However, I do not enjoy all of the chaos and running around. I love to see the joy on my son’s face as he opens his gifts. However, I dread shopping. The mere thought of going to the mall during the holidays can cause me to have an anxiety attack.

It is difficult to navigate the crowds at the mall on a good day; add in a disability, and it is even worse. I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth, and some days I use a cane, which can make the mall or any crowded place dangerous. I try to avoid the mall and do most, if not all, of my shopping online. Amazon is a lifesaver! It is so much easier to sit on my couch in my comfortable pajamas to shop than go to a store.

I often have groceries delivered, too. Instacart saves me from having to carry heavy items up and down the steps to my apartment.

I don’t do too much cooking for the holidays (or anytime, for that matter) but I do bake and bring desserts to dinners and parties. I have learned to do a little at a time. For example, if I need to bake cookies for a cookie exchange and bring a cake, I will divide up the baking over two nights, as it is too much for me to do all of it in one day. On the rare occasion when I need to cook dinner for a group, I do as much as I can ahead of time. I also will buy some prepared items, such as bagged salad or precut vegetables. For large parties, I use paper or plastic plates and disposable trays to make cleanup easier. It is amazing how much time and energy it saves.

Decorating for the holidays can cause my anxiety to go into overdrive. I am grateful that we celebrate Chanukah, or Hanukkah, because the holiday doesn’t require many decorations. I have one bin of Chanukah and winter-themed ornaments. If I buy a new decoration, I donate one to avoid accumulating an overwhelming amount of stuff — though I do have an abundance of dreidels. Over the years, I have learned to keep decorations simple. After all, the holidays are about spending time with family, not fighting with light.

When the anger becomes too much, I take a break. Sometimes I make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book or take a warm bath or shower. I may work on my scrapbook or craft project or listen to soothing music to relax. I find these strategies help me cope with the anger and chaos of the holidays.

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