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How to Deal With Emetophobia During the Holidays

dark-haired woman in green and red checked shirt and grey cardigan looking sad and nervous next to a Christmas tree

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and celebration, but for many people it can be a tough period to get through. This is particularly true for those with emetophobia. You may find that the so-called “season to be jolly” actually brings with it specific challenges and low moods.

In this article, we’re going to shine a light on why this can be a tricky time for emetophobes. You’ll also discover a range of tips on how to handle emetophobia during the holidays. Let’s begin!

Why is my emetophobia worse during the holidays?

The holiday season is all about getting together with the people we love, exchanging gifts, and overindulging. The problem is that, if you have emetophobia, these activities can be full of potential triggers.

Aspects of the holidays that can be hard for emetophobes include:

  • Travelling back and forth to see family and friends
  • Staying in unfamiliar locations
  • An increase in the amount of socialising you’re expected to do
  • Celebrations centred around food and alcohol
  • Group meals
  • The pressure to overindulge/people around you overindulging
  • An uptick in illnesses like colds and flu
  • Less time to focus on yourself

We’re not showing you this list to scare you—it’s to remind you that you should cut yourself some slack if you’re feeling extra anxious. It can be really hard to deal with emetophobia symptoms when everyone around you seems to be having a great time.

Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to make the holidays much more enjoyable. Let’s take a look at some useful strategies!

How to deal with emetophobia during the holiday season

illustration of a smiling woman walking on a path. it is raining and she is wearing a scarf and gloves. there are trees and houses lining the path and a figure in the background

Schedule some me-time

If you have family and/or friends that celebrate this time of year, it can start to feel like you never have a moment to yourself. It’s really important, though, that you carve out some time to take a breath and collect your thoughts.

If you’re able to set aside full days or weekends for this, that’s great. However, even a quick 20 minutes here or there can work wonders for your mental health. Spend the time doing something that relaxes you. That could be taking a bath, watching a comforting film, or sneaking in a quick nap.

If really pushed for time, you might need to be a bit creative when it comes to finding these moments. At a gathering and someone realises they need something from the shop? Offer to run the errand for them! Staying with relatives and a cousin gets stranded at the airport? Step in to save the day and enjoy a 20+ minute car journey to yourself—bliss.

Get fresh air

You can take that me-time to the next level by stepping outside. Even if you’re somewhere very cold, wrap up warm and the fresh air will allow you to clear your head. It’s extra beneficial if you can be around nature, so consider strolling through a local park or walking in the hills, if such areas are available to you.

If you have an event coming up that you’re nervous about, schedule a walk in the hour before it starts. You’ll be amazed at what even a short spell of time outside can do for your mood.

Don’t say yes to everything

We’ve pushed the importance of time to yourself, and one of the best ways to ensure that you can get some is to be thoughtful with your RSVPs. If you’re lucky enough to be in-demand, don’t feel the need to say yes to every invite you receive.

illustration of people sat around a table enjoying a holiday meal. there are stars hanging from the walls and lots of dishes of food on the table

Socialising is great, but you only have so much gas in your tank. To retain control over your anxiety levels, you need to avoid overstretching yourself or getting burnt out.

Declining social invitations is not selfish. In fact, protecting your wellbeing in this way will make you a nicer person to be around on the occasions when you do socialise—so you’re doing everyone a favour!

If you’re someone who struggles to say no, it’s easier to just be honest (as long as you say it in a nice way). For example, you could tell a friend, “Our relationship means a lot to me so I’m really thankful for the invitation, but I’m just not able to show up as my best self right now, so I’ll have to rain check. I hope you can understand.”

Use the chaos to your advantage

An upside of the holidays being a bit hectic is that there are plenty of things going on to distract you from your emetophobia. Try to focus on what’s happening right in front of you, rather than worrying about what might happen in the future.

This is tricky at quieter times of the year, but when there are presents to wrap, trees to decorate and plans to organise, you have lots of ways to keep your mind busy!

You can even do Christmas versions of your go-to coping mechanisms. For example, when you need to feel grounded, count the baubles on a Christmas tree, or organise your cards in alphabetical order of who sent them.

Practise gratitude

Along with jolliness, the holidays are also a time to appreciate what you have. This bodes well, because practising gratitude is also a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental wellbeing.

When you have a phobia, it’s very easy to get bogged down with the negative aspects of life and forget about the good things. Even now, you might be thinking, “But I personally have nothing to be particularly grateful for!” It’s very unlikely that this is true.

If you give it a good try, you can feel gratitude for even the smallest things. Consider the cute dog you saw as you walked down your street this morning, or the feeling of climbing into a bed with fresh sheets. You can even feel gratitude for the fact that you decided to read this article—it shows that you’re the type of person who’s interested in improving their life.

When you focus on what you’re grateful for, it highlights the positive aspects of your life, which in turn undermines the legitimacy of those anxious thoughts. Try writing a list of 3 things you’re grateful for every morning or evening—it only takes a minute or two!

That’s a wrap on our tips for dealing with emetophobia during the holidays. We hope this has encouraged you to realise that you can enjoy this special time of year.

From everyone here at EmetoGo, have a very happy holidays!