The holidays are supposed to be full of cheer and celebration. But for so many of us, they are a time of increased stress and anxiety. This can result from a number of things, such as feeling as though there is not enough time, pressure from upcoming family gatherings, gift-giving, holiday travel, and financial worries related to all of the above. We also tend to see quite a bit on social media of what the holidays are supposed to look like, even though we know it is often not an accurate depiction of what the holidays are like for most of us. And now, due to the pandemic, there is the added stress of how these current times impact the holiday season.
I think one of the most difficult aspects of coping with anxiety is dealing with the fear that is inherent to this experience. While fear and anxiety are not necessarily the same thing, they typically walk alongside one another, and that is why it can be helpful to analyze one in order to understand the other.
Here we are in the second holiday season of the pandemic. Even though things have changed over the past year, there are still many areas of uncertainty and things that are anxiety-provoking. Dealing with anxiety during the holidays becomes vital, and particularly during these uncertain times.
One of the things I hear most often from students I work with is that it is hard for them to say "no" to others. It is something that I have also found difficult for my own anxiety, for fear that it can lead to conflict or upsetting someone. So, I will end up with more on my plate than intended, having a hard time managing my time and balancing responsibilities, and feeling anxious because I felt like I was being pulled in several different directions.
Using technology can sometimes contribute to your anxiety. Have you ever wondered if your anxiety levels would be different -- such as whether you would experience more or less anxiety -- if your use of technology was different?
One of the things that will often trigger my anxiety is feeling as though there isn't enough time. Lately, I've taken on quite a few tasks. As a result, I've felt the pressure of feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day. When this happens, I start to notice that I feel irritable, that my thoughts race, I have a hard time sleeping, and I feel generally overwhelmed.
Racing, overwhelming thoughts are a common symptom of anxiety, and it can be difficult to deal with them when it feels like they’re spiraling out of control. I know that when I am anxious, I am overcome with anxious thoughts that I try to control but can’t. We often hear about or talk about strategies to control anxiety, including stopping negative thoughts or changing negative thoughts into positive ones. But what happens when you can't control your thoughts?
Struggling with anxiety means often experiencing symptoms unexpectedly, so compartmentalizing anxiety can help. Life does not stop when you experience anxiety. The day goes on, you still have to go to work, go to school, tend to your family, and all of this does not stop when you feel anxious. However, there are coping strategies you can use to help you manage chronic anxiety on a daily basis when you know that life goes on and it is important to focus on the present. During times that this has occurred for me, I have found that it has been helpful for me to compartmentalize my anxious thoughts and feelings.
How can having faith help anxiety? Let's talk about why having faith works, what faith is, how to have faith, and faith's effect on anxiety.