Emetophobia can be difficult to deal with at the best of times, but during the holidays it is even worse. Most people suffering from anxiety, panic and the fear of vomiting try to stay indoors if they can. They do not want to go out where they will encounter people who might have a norovirus. They do not like to eat out because they fear the food may be contaminated if they do not prepare it themselves. Most emetophobia sufferers also try to stay away from children because they believe that they carry a lot of germs.

At Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's there are traditionally family gatherings and often not at the emetobic person's home. So all of their fears can be present at one time: going out, not preparing the meal, being around other people, especially children.

Here are some tips for helping you get through the holidays when you fear vomiting.

  1. Remember that being “around” people will not make you sick, even if they are sick. You have to ingest the virus. So always wash your hands before eating or putting them in your mouth. If you do that, you are just as safe as if you were attending the festivities in a bubble.
  2. Trust your relatives to cook the food properly. Do not ask questions about it. Continually questioning is an awkward behavior, not a calming one.
  3. If there's something you do not want to eat, just do not eat it and do not feel bad / guilty / obliging. You are a grown-up and you can eat whatever you want. Hold your head high and just say “no thank you.”
  4. Do not constantly question people if they talk about not feeling well or having been sick recently. Again, this is an exotic behavior. You can not possibly hear an answer that's going to calm you down.
  5. Enjoy yourself! LISTEN to conversations, play games, catch up with relatives, smile at babies and children's happiness. Savor every delicious morsel of food. Avoid sitting in a corner freaking out – get out into the conversation instead. Keep busy.
  6. When you hear the voice in your head freaking out and being angry try just saying “stop” and going on to distract yourself with something else. Even if you say “stop” five thousand times over the holiday, it's better than saying five thousand terrifying things to yourself and nothing else.
  7. As a Christmas gift to yourself, or a New Year's resolution, get some counseling and get over this phobia once and for all. You deserve this!
  8. Finally, these are religious holidays. If you are a person of faith, pray and ask God to help you conquer this phobia. Note that God needs soil to grow seeds – they will not grow on your coffee table, no matter how much you pray. Emetophobia counselors and therapists and emetophobia treatment programs are the soil you need!

All the best to everyone this holiday season!

Anna S. Christie