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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Anxiety Doesn't Stop For Christmas

Photo by Tyler Delgado on Unsplash

The strangest thing happened to me yesterday, I felt my anxiety spike in a way I could not control. It was a crazy feeling to feel so disoriented. I explained it to my husband by describing how my head was yelling at me from the inside. I felt a weird sort of panic lying just under the surface of my conscious thought - my mind refused to think rationally.

I don't even know what set it off. We were discussing what we wanted to cook for Christmas dinner and weren't really coming to any cohesive conclusion. We were all getting frustrated and sort of let it be for the moment. But for some reason, I couldn't get the grievance out of my head. I want so badly for Christmas to go well, that I'm making myself crazy about it.

Something I've recently realized about Christmas is that it is the most anticipated day of the year. We start counting it down twenty-five days before it happens. It's still a few days off and I'm just ready for it to come so I can relax and not worry about it anymore. The anticipation creates a sort of underlying tension for me, which exasperates my anxiety.

It is a good kind of anticipation though. I'm excited for this year. Everything is already wrapped and ready to go. We are all ready to share the surprises we have chosen for each other. Eventually, we did figure out a Christmas menu with the added benefit of using the crock pot so we don't have to cook all day.

I took a walk down the street to this lookout point where you can see both the Space Needle and behind it the Olympic Mountains. It was a beautiful view. Though chilly, there was no rain this afternoon allowing a clear look at the snow covered mountains. The breath of fresh air really helped calm my anxiety down. I had to pay attention for the rest of the afternoon and remember to let go of my expectation of the outcome; to simply be in this moment and let those future moments take care of themselves once they get here.

It amazes me how much our expectation is the cause of our struggles. I want some to happen in a particular way and if it doesn't, which let's be honest nothing ever really occurs the way we think it will or should, then I feel guilty, disappointed or lost. I am trying to learn to let go of what I want the time to be and just appreciate what it has to offer in this moment.

I am grateful for my growth. Not very long ago, that kind of panic attack would have put me down for the whole day, or longer. This time, it was only a couple hours before I climbed out of my fears. This is something I am learning about myself - how to break out of this downward spiral of dread.

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