A father and son at home together having a conversation

What to do if seeing friends and family makes you anxious

2 min read
06 December 2019

Over Christmas, there’s usually lots of visiting friends and family, but sometimes it’s not exciting. Sometimes you can feel anxious about seeing them, or you may think ‘what if I have a panic attack while I’m with my family or friends?’ It’s normal to feel this – I know many people, including myself, that have had these thoughts. Here’s some tips on what I do to cope:

Before seeing friends or family

I always practice my mindfulness and breathing before seeing friends and family. It’s a common tip, but it definitely works for me. Try to remind yourself that there’s no danger with your family or friends, and that you are safe with them. I also like to go outside and embrace the sunlight and fresh air, because it helps your mind when you feel physically good.

On Christmas morning

When I’ve been anxious on Christmas morning, I look at pictures of palm trees and beaches because this makes me feel calmer, but everyone has their own calming techniques and preferences. Find out what works for you.

If you do have a panic attack

Last year, I had a panic attack while I was with my family. I went up to the bathroom, did my breathing exercises, cooled my hands down with cold water and splashed my face to make myself aware that I was still there and I was okay. When I was feeling calmer, I went back downstairs and said to everyone that I just went to the bathroom and nobody questioned anything. We all have moments like this sometimes, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. But, sometimes it can be easier if you want to say ‘I just popped to the loo’. 

Remember, you are resilient

I hope these techniques help you as much as they have helped me. Remember you are resilient and you will get back up when you fall down.

Where to get help

If you are struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, take a look at our anxiety page for advice and suggestions on where to get help.

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