How to Manage Crowd Anxiety During the Holidays

Crowds are actually among the top ten fears that people have and that gets heightened over the holidays.

(Published Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017)

Crowds are actually among the top ten fears that people have and that gets heightened over the holidays.

Since holidays bring more people to roads, stores and celebrations, crowds can cause anxiety.

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Chief of psychiatry at Ben Taub and Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Asim Shah, says crowd anxiety is common.

His first tip to tackle big events - locate the exits when you arrive.

"Before you enter or as soon as you enter you can mark down the exits so that if it's getting too bothersome, you need to know where to get out from. You also need to know in those situations that you are not alone."

In that case, bringing a friend can help.

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"When they have a group of people who are enjoying, they get less anxious," said Shah. "When they are alone, they get more anxious."

Another way to cope, focus on the reason you're there. For example, sporting events can be an easy way to focus on something other than the anxiety.

"So if you focus on the game as opposed to the crowd, that may relax you," he said.

But Shah warns, if you classify your anxiety as severe, start small.

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"As opposed to just jump onto this mega event," Shah said. "Doing those things systemically, would make more sense,"

At some events, everyone is leaving at once -- like sporting events or concerts -- Shah says if you can, try to wait until the crowds are gone.

Even though it means that you are staying in that environment longer, it may make it easier for you to have that clear path out.