Anxiety and the Holidays

Anxiety and the Holidays

Christmas event with the Wrench crew from Seattle. They flew in to be with us in Brainerd. Grateful for them and all they do for Lemon Squad!

Living with chronic anxiety is a tough gig. 

In my experience, anxiety has dictated the course of my life more than any other factor. 

Anxiety has kept me up for nights on end, robbing me of sleep, leaving me like a walking zombie the next day – and the next, and the next. Anxiety fueled a relentless need to work and build my company, Lemon Squad – it pushed me to work all day and well into the night, seven days a week, for many years. This had benefits, because the business succeeded, but it came with a cost – time, energy, and peace of mind.

Anyone who lives with chronic anxiety like I do will tell you: Anxiety can flare up at any time. Things can be going along okay, the anxiety can be managed, and then all of a sudden – boom! – it knocks us for a loop, and we’re struggling to keep our heads above water.

Like I said, living with chronic anxiety is a tough gig.

And then, you add the holidays.

The holidays – and all the events and family interactions and pressure and shopping and the whole avalanche of stuff that come with it … well, it can be hard for anybody to deal with. You add the holidays to somebody who suffers chronic anxiety? It’s a recipe for disaster.

But I’m here to offer you some hope. Because for me, the holidays have changed – big time.

What it used to be like: any kind of gathering with a lot of people would send me over the edge. Family gatherings, the pressure of the holiday, lots of drinking, lots of eating, toxic relationships – it all was way too much for me. I would handle it in two ways. First (and maybe the healthiest) is that I would find a reason not to go. I would make up a reason if I needed to. I just couldn’t be there. Or second, if I did go, I’d be miserable. My heart would race, my thoughts would race, I’d be taking my pulse on the sly the whole time, monitoring the artery in my neck. I’d pick arguments with people just to relieve the tension within me. I needed something – anything – to relieve that feeling of panic, that the worst-case scenario was just about to happen.

So what’s it like now? What’s changed?

Today, my anxiety is managed with medication. I also add in daily hiking and healthy living. It’s not gone completely – but it’s under control today, and I can live with it.

And today, I can go to a family holiday event and – get this – actually enjoy it. I go to be with the people I enjoy. I ask myself what I can bring to the situation. If there’s good food, all the better.

For people who suffer anxiety like I do, my next blog will have my top tips to survive - and even enjoy - holiday events. 

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