How to Simplify the Holidays for People with Anxiety
by Jennifer Scott
For people who have anxiety, the holidays can be an especially difficult time. There are so many things that add stress to our lives during the holidays - from buying gifts, to attending busy parties, to trying to get everything ready in time, to making sure everyone has a happy holiday - that people with anxiety may not be able to handle their feelings and symptoms. To help you keep your anxiety under control this holiday season, use our guide to simplify your holidays.
Seek Help When You Need It
Help can take many forms during the holiday season. You may need your friends and family members to help you decorate your home. You may need to ask your loved ones to give you explicit lists of gift ideas so that you don’t have to worry about making everyone happy Christmas morning. It is perfectly acceptable to seek help from those you love and trust most this holiday season, and it is okay if you give yourself permission to keep your decorations and social activities to a minimum this year.
Or, you may need to see a doctor or therapist to better manage your symptoms and feelings. If you experience any warning signs of anxiety, such as anxiety affecting your physical health, work, relationships, enjoyable activities and pleasures, or use of drugs and alcohol, you need to seek help from a medical professional or support group. Your healthcare professional may decide that it is time to get a service dog to ease your anxiety.
Make Time for Relaxing Events
Colleges, churches, and organizations frequently hold concerts, exhibits, and presentations during the holidays. Make time to attend these events to help put you in the holiday spirit and relax. There’s nothing better than sitting and listening to a holiday choir or watching local kids put on a pageant. You’ll slow down, take in the sights and sounds, and feel calm and positive when you leave. You also may choose to attend these local events alone if you need time to yourself to decompress.
Be Honest with Loved Ones
If you are feeling overwhelmed or pressured, talk openly and honestly with your loved ones about your struggles with anxiety this holiday season. You may feel more anxious about offending or insulting them if you don’t attend their holiday gatherings or participate as much as they’d like you to, so be proactive and give them a clue about your anxiety ahead of time. If they know that you may step out to get some air, go to a quiet part of the house during the party, or leave early, they will understand and not take it personally, and they will be able to offer support and help you when you are ready. Communicating your anxiety to your loved ones may not be easy, but it will be key to helping you navigate holiday parties and get-togethers.
To manage your stress and anxiety, plan to spend 20 minutes of meditation or mindfulness each day. You will give yourself a break, allow yourself to recenter and refocus, and practice being grateful and positive. You will calm yourself and take control of your thoughts. Take deep breaths, find a mantra that works for you, play soft music in the background, and help yourself through the holidays by giving yourself time to be mindful.
You don’t have to have the most beautiful holiday decorations on your block, the most delicious holiday party food, or the most gorgeous gifts for loved ones. If you are realistic about your expectations and abilities, you will take some pressure off yourself and reduce your stress and anxiety this holiday season.
The best way to manage your anxiety during the holidays is to focus on simplifying and being proactive in your planning. Begin by deciding what to prioritize. If it is important to you to hang the stockings, decorate the tree, and bake cookies this holiday season, then make your lists and plan to get those tasks done. Allow for plenty of time so you do not feel rushed and ask your closest friends or family members to help if you want to spend time with them while you prepare for a joyous holiday. The more you communicate with yourself, your health care professional, and your loved ones this holiday season, the simpler it will be for you to manage your anxiety and enjoy the holiday season.
Image via Pixabay by Unsplash
I wrote and gave this eulogy during the funeral of my beloved Grandma. Known by most of our family as "Grandma Babe," she was the heart of our huge family. This woman means the world to us, and I wanted to share how special she was.
(Music: Amazing Grace)
As you can all probably guess, doing this service for Grandma is going to be really hard. But it’s the last thing I can do for this little lady. And it’s not much considering all the things she did for us over the years.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried writing this over the past few days. How do you put into words how much this woman right here has meant to all of us? And I realized … there aren’t enough words in any language. Because this woman—this precious lady—was our sun, and we all revolved around her.
This morning, I stand here as a representative of our family and for our family. No pressure! I’m going to do my best to express what this woman has meant to us—both for her and for all of you. All of us.
Let’s start with the facts.
Babe was born on November 30, 1918 in Urbana, Illinois the daughter of James William and Violet Elizabeth Roughton Johnson. She married Alger “Curly” Bray on Sept. 25, 1937, in Tuscola, IL. He preceded her in death on June 20, 1998. She was one of five children, including June (whom we lost just months ago), James, Beverly and Betty Jean.
Curly was the one who first called her “Babe,” and she’s been Babe ever since. They lived in a few different places, but 48th Street in Moline resonates the most as “home.”
She has 4 children, 9 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, 4 great-great-grandchildren … and there are two more babies on the way.
Those are the facts, but we all know a person is more than dates and numbers. The best part of a person is how they make you feel. Babe made us feel special and loved, and she didn’t ask for anything in return. She was our sunshine, and we were the flowers she tended that basked in her light.
But this little lady—this beautiful little lady—never understood just how bright a star she was to us and so many others. She worked so hard throughout her life without stopping to realize the impact she made on people.
Willa raised her family of six on a tight budget and a prayer. She could make a meal out of anything. She sewed not just quilts and dolls, she also made clothes for her family.
She took a tiny house in a ravine and made it into a home for her husband and children. Everything about that little house was a reflection of her—tiny but impressive. It was her blood, sweat and tears that made it possible.
As a kid, there was always a special joy in walking down the steps to get to the little house. The tiered hillside, flowers of all colors, circular brick patio and strings of colorful hanging lights. It was like walking into a fairytale. So many good times were spent in that yard, rocking on the red swing, sitting in lawn chairs, sipping the best iced tea in the world.
So those are the facts and a little nostalgia. But let’s talk about who she really was.
Babe would do anything for anyone. She never complained, and she was always happy to see her family—whether one-on-one or in a big, loud group.
Because family was her most-treasured accomplishment. Of all the things she did—sewing intricate quilts, building decks and planning gazebos, baking the best bread and oatmeal cake--we were what she was most proud of.
“I’m the reason you’re all here,” she’d say. And she was right.
Babe didn’t discriminate, either. She considered the ones her children and grandchildren married as her own. They were her kids and grandkids. She didn’t consider them anything else.
Yesterday, Micheal and I were talking, and he told me about someone back home who told him he was sorry for his loss. While the sentiment was very nice, Micheal said, “Don’t be! She was 97 years old, and she didn’t waste one bit of her life.”
Maybe she didn’t build skyscrapers and wasn’t a world traveler or a great adventurer, but she was amazing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children … to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better … to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
She succeeded. Now I’ll share with you some of the memories people wrote about her at the visitation …
“I remember that Babe, me and my grandfather used to go out to eat every Tuesday and had a great time.” – Annabella
“I will always remember her laughter.” – Bill D.
(read from notebook)
I read a poem by Sanober Khan that made me think of Babe and her kids.
“my mother is pure radiance. She is the sun I can touch and kiss and hold without getting burnt.”
We are all glad that our Babe is no longer in pain or lost inside herself. But the worst thing about losing her is that we no longer get to touch her or kiss her … or be touched or kissed by her. For that, my heart breaks.
But she will always ALWAYS be our sunshine. Just look to the sky and know she is still shining down on us.
We love you, Grandma.
(Music: You Are My Sunshine)
Daisy drank the tea, even though it tasted like burnt tires and twigs. She followed the instructions told to her by the woman who said her name was Serena but was likely something like Susan or Teri. She drank the tea, swirled the cup and placed it upside down on the saucer. Then she turned the cup right side up. What Daisy saw was a cat (a deceitful friend) and a raven (death or bad news). Her mind contorted. Who had deceived her? Who would die? In an instant she knew, and something would have to be done.
Max entered the room. “Daisy?” On the table was an empty teacup marked with Daisy’s usual color of lipstick.
Picking up the cup, he thought to himself: “I wonder what the dog and angel mean?” He didn’t hear Daisy come up behind him, let alone notice the knife in her hand.
I actually do write things that don't involve cemeteries. Right now I'm focusing on mini fiction stories. Let me know what you think.