Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday Anxieties

Thanksgiving is one week from today, the official start of the holiday season (at least here in the U.S.), and I am mostly filled with anxiety rather than happy anticipation. This holiday season is going to be even more challenging than most: we are traveling next week for a 5 day trip to visit my hometown; two weeks later, we are traveling again to celebrate an early Christmas with my family; and then two weeks after that, we are traveling all the way to Jamaica for a full week with my family. Just the thought of all those expectations, obligations, and activity makes me dread the whole season.

Next week, we have a 7-hour drive each way and family events scheduled every day we are there - most of them scheduled for early afternoon when I need to nap. My family barely acknowledges my limitations and needs (some of them don't even do that), and they expect me to somehow manage to participate in everything planned. I'm already worrying about how to squeeze in naps, stick to the strict diet that keeps me functioning, and manage my energy.

To make matters worse, I got hit by yet another bout of bronchitis last week. I spent all of September & October battling first bronchitis and then the flare-up of yeast overgrowth that resulted from needing two rounds of antibiotics. I felt good - back to my normal baseline - for exactly two weeks. Last Friday, I woke up with chest pain & tightness, congestion & coughing - it just all popped up overnight! My husband pointed out that my usual strategy of waiting and trying to avoid antibiotics backfired this fall when I ended up needing 15 days' total to finally kick the infection, so I started Zithromax immediately this time. The chest pain & tightness eased within a couple of days, though I am still battling some congestion (both sinus and chest) and a mild cough. I need to get completely over this before we leave for Rochester next week, or I will never survive the family marathon!

Besides fighting this infection, I'm preparing for the trip by trying to calm my anxieties. I'm trying to remember that others' expectations don't matter - I can only do whatever I can do. I'm trying to stop the worst-case scenarios that plague me, worrying about what might happen next week. I'm trying to stop those stories running through my mind about how my family doesn't understand and instead focusing on taking care of myself. I'm trying to breathe deep, stay calm, and not allow worrying to add to my burdens.

Of course, all of that is easier said than done! But I'm trying. The truth is that I usually end up enjoying these family gatherings & I usually manage better than I expect (though there have been some spectacular disasters, too).

What are your plans for the holiday season? How do you handle anxiety over family gatherings and others' expectations?

Breathe deep...

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