Like many other adults in the United States, I suffer from anxiety. While it’s mild now, just two years ago it was borderline out of control. Since then, I’ve learned to manage it by learning my triggers (finances, too much social activity, impromptu events, and the feeling of being rushed) and focusing on my my brain is telling me that it needs. The holidays seem to trigger all of that at once.
Mr. Cozy Cottage is a tattoo artist. It is a feast or famine business, meaning that there are amazing months where we have extra income and not so great months where we barely scrape by. December is definitely one of those months as people put such luxuries to side in order to afford gifts for their loved ones. This is also our most expensive month of the year as well as our craziest with social engagements seeming to bombard us all at once. Needless to say the anxiety demon rears its ugly little head at the drop of a hat.
I’m definitely no expert on the matter, but I’ve learned what works for me on a daily basis, so my holiday plan is usually the exact same plan but amplified by 10. So if you suffer from anxiety and are really dreading the insanity that is about to happen (or are having trouble dealing with the chaos already), here’s what I do to help get through it.
Have a plan
This doesn’t have to be a minute-by-minute account for the entire month of January. Having an inflexible schedule is just as bad as having no schedule at all. I know that December is nuts, and the closer it gets to Christmas and New Years the madness only gets worse. I recently started bullet journaling, which is basically a self-created planner. I used an old empty journal to create my weekly pages, monthly events, and all of my lists from grocery shopping, meal planning, Christmas gifts, and things to do. It fits neatly in my purse and I never lose anything. You can read more about starting a bullet journal with this fantastic article by Creative Savings Blog. Even if you don’t bullet journal, at least invest in a planner to write down all your activities. It will really help you nail down some things so you won’t feel quite so rushed and frantic. You know what is going to happen and when.
This is where the bullet journal comes in handy because everything is all in one place. Regardless, lists will save your life. I don’t know about you, but when my anxiety kicks in full force, I have a hard enough time remembering to brush my teeth let alone what to get for who and what sizes so-and-so wears. Makes lists. Make lists of your lists. Make lists of your lists of lists. Okay, that might be a bit excessive, but you get my point. Having those will give you a direction to go in when your brain falters but you still have stuff to do.
Be sure to take time out when you need it
Yes, the hustle and bustle is insane, but the key to being happy during this time is to take care of yourself. Keep your schedule flexible to allow yourself moments to de-stress or freak out when you need to. Curl up with a book or video game. My personal favorite is crocheting; I get stress relief and I’m productive with making Christmas presents.Bubble baths and listening to music are also great ways to take a chill break. Now the trick to this is not feeling guilty. Just as when you are sick, you need rest and medicine, don’t think of taking time to yourself as being lazy. You need to do this for your health, and it’s completely okay to take care of yourself.
You’ve just been invited to your fourth party in a week. You’re exhausted from working all day and partying at the other three and you’re just burnt out on socializing. So politely decline – adding a reason is not necessary – and go on about your business. The same applies to, “Can you make some cookies for such and such event?” as well. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to please everyone else that you end up unhappy and miserable. Believe it or not, those people you think you’re disappointing will totally understand your need for peace and quiet.
Find something to enjoy about the chaos every day
Amid your running around, take a moment – just a moment – to stop and look at the beauty of Christmas lights or the kind act of a stranger. Maybe you heard your favorite song on the radio or someone at the office brought in some yummy cookies. It doesn’t have to be much, but at the end of the day, think back on the good things that happened. It will make you feel much better. I love lighting a fire. The smell, glow, and sound of a fire are so soothing, and soon I’m feeling so much better about the day, no matter how awful it was.
Now, as for myself, we had brunch with some friends this morning and I have a friend coming to sleep over and watch Christmas movies while we bake and decorate sugar cookies on Friday. Then we have a Christmas cantata that we were invited to attend in which one of our good friends is singing, followed by a visit by Mr. Cozy Cottage’s oldest friend. Oh yeah, and then Christmas is only a few days after that. Our son is coming to visit the day after Christmas, and we will be travelling to my parents’ house to do my side of the family’s Christmas on New Year’s Eve before he returns home. So…yeah, I’ve got my work cut out for me. And in the meantime, there are gifts to make, cookies and meals to bake, and a whole assortment of random, miscellaneous things mixed in.
If your schedule is as crazy as mine, PLEASE don’t hesitate to comment on your best ways to manage your anxiety. We can all learn from each other!
And also, Yuletide Greetings!!