Dear Hope: Family Gatherings Make Me Anxious

Dear Hope,family gatherings
Christmas is coming and that means family. I love my family, but one or two at a time. I can’t handle them in a group. Every year we have the whole family over for Christmas eve and every year it freaks me out. I don’t want to upset my parents who love it. Plus my little brother loves it too. Each year it gets worse for me. I’m already feeling anxious about that day coming. What can I do?
– Freaking out

Dear Freaking Out,
I’m sorry to hear that this upcoming event is overwhelming you. You are not alone. Many people feel this way. If you’re someone that enjoys being chill and quiet, large groups can be tough. Your family loves these gatherings, but they also love you. I think you should talk to your parents about this.

It’s better to deal with this before it becomes too much, instead of you being upset that night. Share all your feelings with your parents. Explain how being in the group affects you. They love the big gatherings. They might not completely understand where you are coming from, but they love you and want the best for you. When you talk it out with them, you can come up with a compromise.

Some ideas:
You will stay for a certain amount of time and then be able to go to your room.
You can take little breaks throughout the night.
You can keep an eye on the younger kids by playing a game in another room away from the big crowd.
You can help with the party. That way you can be in and out of the kitchen to keep yourself busy and have small breaks.

Reassure your parents that you will do your best to be social. You just want their support and understanding. When you start feeling overwhelmed, breath and excuse yourself. Instead of thinking about freaking out, tell yourself “this is my family, I love them and they want the best for me”.

Sometimes just worrying about it makes it worse. Keep your thoughts about the night positive. Have a plan already set and try to have a good time.

Thank you for being brave and sending in your question.

Dear Hope

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