Parties. Family. Money problems. Lack of time. All of these things cause stress and anxiety during the holidays. Often times we think simply avoiding something will relieve all that stress and anxiety.
Anxious about seeing family who criticize you? Just don't attend the family holiday party. After all, Aunt Bea should be there again next year. Anxious about having no money this year? Have a drink (or two or three), spend the money you have and simply avoid the bills that need to be paid. Anxious about going to a party where too many people will be there? Then just stay home and miss out on the all the fun.
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The office holiday party, going to a family function, or being in a crowd of people you don't know may cause you to be fearful and nervous. These are feelings we don't like so we simply avoid situations that frighten us.
Did you know that avoiding that situation will most likely NOT relieve your anxiety? In fact, scary situations become scarier when you avoid them. And as they become scarier, our anxiety actually increases over time.
Avoidance has become our way to cope. So, now what do we do?
1. Recognize that avoidance doesn't work.
2. Recognize the cost of avoidance. (Being alone, not seeing loved ones)
3. Learn to understand, accept, and handle the feelings and situations that make you anxious.
Anxiety is not just about the holidays. Many things in life cause us extreme stress and anxiety. If you find yourself constantly avoiding life situations on a regular basis or find that your avoidance is causing issues in your daily life (not leaving home or not going to the store, for example), reach out and get some help.
Effectively treating anxiety often requires facing those frightening situations. The IHCRC Behavioral Health Team is here to help when anxiety and avoidance take over your life.
In the meantime, during this time of holiday stress, find a friend to attend that party with you. You just might have a merry time.