Not the typical description of the feelings associated with the coming holidays, I know.
But, if you are one of the 40 million Americans that suffer with anxiety, you understand the significance of the title, huh? Do you wake up on January 2nd with a sigh of relief?
It's not that you don't enjoy time spent over the holidays with your inner circle—in a familiar setting... with just the circle, man!
Because you do—the vast majority of the time, anyway. During the holidays, however, everyone has a tendency to go big! The "usuals" are invaded by outsiders.
Sure, they seem nice enough. You could, probably, manage the chit chat, if there weren't so many of them. Everywhere you look, you see someone you don't know. The ratio of faces you feel comfortable with compared to those you don't must be at least 3:1. And, the odds are not in your favor, oh, by the way.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Social anxiety disorders make it tough to be around people. A trip to the grocery store is unnerving enough; attending a holiday party or the extended family gathering is nothing short of terrifying!
But, you can not give in to your anxiety.
It will perpetuate and, even, intensify your fear. So, if you have to get out there (and you do), these tips from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) should bolster your confidence. So, take a deep breath and...
Let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes things don't go as planned. It's okay. You're still breathing (albeit, a bit rapidly, perhaps). Everyone else is still breathing. It's all good.
Wonder what they are wondering. Instead of thinking about what people are thinking about you, try switching that up. Odds are they really aren't sizing you up at all, because they are wondering what you are thinking about them!
Do not take the edge off with drugs or alcohol. Please... Don't.
Smile, make eye contact, and ask questions. People like to talk about themselves. Make not getting a word in edgewise a good thing.
Take a break from it all. You don't have to feel obligated to accept every invitation or brave the masses at the mall. You wield the power to say no. Use it... but not all the time.
Planes, trains, and automobiles
Is it the holiday travel that gets you in a tizzy? If you suffer from a panic disorder or agoraphobia, the airport or train station is the last place you care to be during the holidays.
Start packing anyway. ADAA has some tips for you, too.
Book your flight for as early in the day as possible. Airports are much less crowded at that time of day.
Think ahead. Make a list of your travel plans, anticipated triggers and practice your stress-reducing techniques.
Talk yourself down. If you feel anxiety rising, know you have become overwhelmed. Make a conscious decision to stop this in its tracks.
Personally, Dory’s mantra comes to mind when I feel everything pressing in. You've seen Finding Nemo?
Sing with me.
🎶 "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..." 🎶
Being "holly jolly" is allowed
Christmastime really is the most wonderful time of the year, if we allow it to be. The lights and decorations are a sight to behold. The songs of the season are uplifting and joyful.
There's something different in the air...
Try to focus on these things.
Not to mention the love that abounds!
Definitely, get in on that!
Thinking ahead will allow you to prepare your plan of action and keep you focused. You are going to survive the holidays and live to tell about it!
Be part of a solution to someone else's problem in sharing yours. That sounds like a great start to seeing things in a different perspective.
Shine that light. The darkness will have to flee. That's the Heart of The Matter. I'll link up when I get it posted.
See you next time.