When you think of your birthday, what do you think of? Celebrating with family and friends? Eating delicious food? Having fun? All of the above?
Birthday celebrations can be a lot of fun, but when you have an anxiety disorder, this isn’t necessarily the case. For example:
- Someone with social anxiety might not like a large birthday party.
- Someone with PTSD might not like the sudden sound of party poppers and other noise makers.
- Someone who was recently diagnosed with an anxiety disorder might not have the strength or energy for a big birthday party.
Unfortunately, society believes that as far as celebrations go, bigger is always better. However, is bigger truly always better? Is a big celebration worth it if it causes someone to have a panic attack?
When you have an anxiety disorder, you have to make sure that your needs are being met. This often means going against what society says is important.
Take me, for instance. With my birthday coming up, I thought and thought about how I wanted to celebrate. There are plenty of attractions near me, but most of them seemed like they would be more of a chore than a celebration. In the end, I decided that on my birthday, I would go hang out with some friends from church in the evening. I also decided that the next day, my family and I would go out to eat for dinner; once we come home, we would have cake, I would open presents, and we would watch a movie together.
For some people, these birthday celebrations sound boring. For me, these birthday celebrations are perfect.
It can be hard to figure out how to celebrate your birthday, especially if people are expecting you to throw a big celebration. However, if you don’t want to have a big celebration, you don’t have to! If having a big celebration is going to drain you physically or emotionally, then don’t. It’s your birthday, and you can spend it however you want.
Here are my tips for coming up with the right birthday celebration for you:
- Think about your energy levels. If you don’t have a ton of energy, consider a small, intimate celebration with a few of your favorite people, such as your significant other, children, best friend, brothers or sisters, and/or parents.
- Only invite people that fill you up. Don’t invite people who leave you feeling drained. It’s your birthday, and you deserve to spend your day surrounded by people who will rejuvenate you.
- Think about your likes and dislikes. If you hate deviating from your bedtime routine, consider going out for an early dinner, instead of a late-night movie. If you don’t like noise, crowds, and/or drinking, don’t go to a club. The key to having a fun birthday is knowing your limits and preferences.
- If you hate surprise parties, make it known. Tell your friends, significant other, family, etc. that a surprise party won’t be fun for you. That way, they can keep this in mind when they plan.
- If receiving presents is hard for you, talk about it with whomever is organizing your celebration.
- If you don’t like opening presents in front of everyone, consider opening them after the celebration when you’re in the comfort of your own home.
- If you feel guilty for receiving presents, remember that this is other people’s way of showing you love. You didn’t force them to buy you a present. They wanted to do it to show you how much they love you.
- Think about your hobbies and interests, and plan a celebration around these passions. This will help you to look forward to the party.
- If you like movies, consider getting some friends to go see a movie.
- If you enjoy fine food, consider going out with your significant other to a restaurant you’ve been meaning to go to.
- If you enjoy board games, invite friends and family over for a board game party.
- If you need extra support from your favorite people, tell them. Make your needs known. They love you and want you to be happy, and the vast majority of the time, they will do anything in their power to help you.
Birthday celebrations don’t have to be hard. With a little bit of planning, you can have a meaningful birthday celebration. It might not be huge or flashy, but it will honor the unique person that you are. And that’s what birthday celebrations are all about!
What’s been your most memorable birthday celebration? Leave your answers in the comments below!