Maybe it’s because I’ve grown older and my family has started asking me why I don’t have a boyfriend. Or because members of the family have grown older and I am worried I will never see them again, this may be the last time. Or because it just takes energy to spend extended time with family. It just seems that these days, when I see my family, I have a distinct aftertaste of anxiety and stress.
The holidays can get to be a little much for anyone, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love my family or enjoy being in their company. My family is near and dear to me. They mean pretty much the world to me, so I am willing to face the stress to spend time with them. However, I am also willing to try anything to subdue this beast called anxiety–and believe me, the beast is real.
Looking ahead to the approaching holidays, when my family will be gathering together once again, I aim to practice some tried and true ways to tame these emotional episodes. These methods work from the inside out, to get me to reach beyond myself and find peace in this simple progression of steps:
Let It Be
A counselor gave me this example once. She said sometimes when we are in a difficult situation it is like being in a pool with a beach ball. We push the beach ball down, only to have it pop up out of the water into our face. She explained stress can be like this. The more we try to push it down, the harder it flies into our faces.
Sometimes the best remedy is to just let it be. Just be stressed out. Let it wash over you like waves.
Other times, it is important to keep the mind busy. I like to do something like counting all the red objects in a room, walking around the block, or holding onto something, like a stress ball. One relaxing technique I have found helpful is yoga. Yoga can be defined as the gentle movement of the body in time with the breath. The result is the balancing and calming of the whole nervous system. There is yoga for all times and places. The particular yoga I am talking about is “Yoga Flow.” I have found this is ideal for stress relief in my case. Nothing makes me more relaxed than a downward dog or a mountain pose.
How do you destress?
Everyone handles stress differently, but one tool anyone can benefit from is having a rock. A rock is someone who is there for support in times of distress. This person could be a friend, counselor, or family member.
When I am stressed, it’s hard for me to have an objective view of myself or my situation. It can seem like the sky is falling down and everything is caving in. Having a rock by my side to remind me that everything is going to be okay is important.
This is important because a reality check and a friend remind me I am not alone. No one should have to suffer stress or anything alone. And no one is ever alone.
Who’s your rock? Who are you a rock for?
Working for the Greater Good
I had a friend once who fasted for seven days. I asked him how he got through it. He said, “I had been working as a missionary and at the time was serving people all day. I didn’t have time to think about my hunger when I was working.” He said he actually did not feel the pain of hunger.
Distraction, like I described in Step 1, is key to lessening stress. The kind of distraction I am talking about is service and volunteerism–opening your mind to care for another person. There are plenty of chances to do this during the holidays: make a skit with the kids, cook a meal, or talk to Grandma. These are all great ways to forget about stress.
What techniques do you have to deal with anxiety? What works best for you?