For my clients, the holidays bring on additional anxiety, starting long before any event occurs as they prepare for time with family. They worry about meeting family expectations and get stuck in overwork and perfectionism. This stress quickly leads to burnout.
Being around their family is exhausting as they spend gatherings overwhelmed by pretending they are feeling good and attempting to keep the peace. As a result, they end their holidays feeling empty and withdrawn.
Holiday family anxiety as a sign of childhood emotional neglect
The above is a common experience of those with a history of childhood emotional neglect or whose parents are emotionally immature. My clients grew up without enough comfort or connection. As a result, they learn to avoid feelings, deny their needs, and focus on getting their parents' attention in other ways.
Over time, my clients falsely believe it's their responsibility to fix this relationship. They think if they try harder, they can avoid being hurt by their family. My clients believe that if they act just right, their parents will be happy, and their connection will increase. And when their parents don't respond well, they blame themselves and think something is inherently wrong with them. As a result, these false beliefs keep clients stuck in anxiety.
Emotionally healthy families and holiday family anxiety
Emotionally healthy families experience holidays differently. Family members want to spend time with each other, but there is no pressure to celebrate in any specific way. Emotionally healthy families maintain their connections throughout the year, so the holidays become a bonus of possible time together. They discuss plans with open communication, understanding, and flexibility.
Emotionally healthy families also communicate openly and assertively throughout their time together. They keep simple traditions that matter to everyone but are open to new possibilities. Holidays are a shared event; it is not the child's responsibility to meet a parent's demands or manage a parent's feelings. People with emotionally healthy families leave the holidays feeling rejuvenated and fulfilled.
Boundaries to help lessen holiday family anxiety
If you notice increased anxiety and depression symptoms around the holidays or during family gatherings, boundaries can help. Boundaries stop the burnout cycle by prioritizing your mental and emotional health. Therefore, they are vital to your recovery from childhood emotional neglect. Personal limits allow you to see the reality of your current family relationships and provide you with the time and space to heal. They also help you be yourself and create an opening for deeper family connections.
I have supported many clients recovering from burnout and childhood emotional neglect in establishing boundaries with their families. As a result, holidays for them now are pleasant and stress-free.
Creating personal limits with your family can be challenging, and it does not matter where you are in the process or how small of a step you're taking. The important thing is that you start.
In the following parts of this blog series, I will further cover why boundaries are so helpful in lessening family anxiety and offer some suggestions to help you get started. And as always, if you want further support, schedule a free therapy consultation today.
Begin Working With An Anxiety Therapist in Illinois
You don't have to struggle during the holiday season. As an anxiety therapist, I would be happy to offer support in creating healthier boundaries from our Mahomet, IL-based practice. I offer both anxiety treatment and therapy for perfectionism in Champaign, Springfield, Peoria, or anywhere else within the state through teletherapy. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:
- Schedule your free consultation by texting or calling 217-402-7817
- Make your first therapy appointment at Live Lekko
- Start making the most of the holidays!
Other Counseling Services At Live Lekko in Champaign, Illinois
At my therapy practice, I help with more than only anxiety. I understand there are a number of mental health concerns you may face. This is why I'm happy to also offer help with therapy for childhood emotional abuse, depression, and burnout. As well as, counseling for women, grief, and people-pleasing. Since I offer online therapy in Illinois no matter where you are located I am here for you. Get in contact with me today!