How to Deal with Anxiety in Holiday Crowds

Driving fears that hit on the way to a holiday activity may only be the tip of the iceberg if you’re equally anxious around crowds. Crowded shopping malls. Crowded restaurants. Crowded social gatherings that you’re obligated to attend. All of the above are a regular part of seasonal fare that may make you want to tear your hair out.

Don’t fret. There are multiple steps you can take to help you cope with crowded situations during the holidays, or any time.

Have an Escape Plan

OK, maybe calling it an escape plan is a bit dramatic. Let’s just call it an easy way out. This means not only knowing where the nearest exits are located in the crowded shopping mall, but also having the ability to leave when you want to. Even if you share a ride to the work party, if you’re ready to leave before your ride is, keep the number of a car service or cab handy.

Bring a Buddy

Friends can be lifesavers when it comes to facing big crowds or other uncomfortable situations. They can serve as a sounding board, help calm you down, and give you an automatic ally. It’s no longer just you against the rest of the world in an anxious situation. It’s you and your pal.

You’re instantly graced with double the power you’d otherwise have. Besides, you two may end up having so much fun you may forget you were supposed to be anxious in the first place.

Focus on Your Reason for Being There

Instead of thinking about how anxious or fearful you are at any given event, switch your attention to your reason for being there. If you’re at a crowded work party to support your coworker, show your support by arranging the snacks or helping her greet people.

If you’re at the mall to buy your last two gifts, purchase those gifts then skedaddle. If you’re at a crowded ice skating rink to have fun with your kids, go skate around and have some fun, will ya?

Help Someone Else

Another way to turn your focus off your anxiety in a crowded place to is to focus on helping someone else. Perhaps a mother of three needs help maneuvering her child’s stroller onto the elevator. Maybe a guy who looks rushed would appreciate you letting him cut ahead of you in the super long eggnog line.

When you’re busy helping someone else, you not only take the focus off yourself, but you get an instant burst of positive energy.

Start Small

Rather than heading to the mall after work for your holiday shopping, try starting with a few small boutiques during off-peak hours. Jumping headfirst into the most boisterous, crowded and crazy holiday scene can be offsetting for anyone, even if they don’t usually mind crowds. Give yourself a break by taking baby steps, moving into larger and louder events only if you truly feel ready.

While crowds and holidays tend to go together, there’s nothing that says you must subject yourself to crowded environments if there’s no reason to be there. The best way to celebrate the holidays is by doing something you love. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving a quiet night at home with your dog or a few close family members and friends.