Sometime around mid-September, I start to get excited about the holidays… Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I’m a mega-traditionalist and I love the comfort that comes with the rituals of each holiday.
Costumes and candy at Halloween. Food and family and Thanksgiving. Decorations and music and gifts and Jesus at Christmas.
But things felt a little different this year. This year I felt like I was running a gauntlet from October to December 25. Like I was on a hamster wheel that kept spinning faster and faster as I desperately tried to keep up.
And I kept up, for the most part. I did all the things. I kept all my commitments. I made sure my kids had a great time.
All while keeping up with running my business and staying involved in my local nonprofit.
And it almost broke me.
The weekend before Christmas, I felt the familiar symptoms of an anxiety attack creeping up. Something I hadn’t felt in almost 8 years.
My stomach felt sick. My breathing was shallow. My hands were shaky. I felt like I was going to jump out of my own skin. And I couldn’t defeat the physical symptoms with mental clarity.
I tried to use logic to reason with myself. There was no reason to feel this way. By that point, most of the gifts were already purchased. The Christmas menu was planned. We weren’t preparing to travel. We didn’t have any family coming to stay with us.
For all intents and purposes, this was going to be one of our most low-key Christmases in years.
So why did I feel like the walls were caving in around me and an elephant was sitting on my chest?
I couldn’t figure it out. And I couldn’t make it stop.
The days leading up to Christmas were exhausting as I tried to fight this feeling and hide it from everyone but my husband, who lovingly listened and comforted and tried to help. But no one can really help someone who’s trapped inside their own anxious mind.
Then Christmas Day arrived and as soon as all the gifts were open and Christmas dinner was over, I realized the anxiety was gone. Poof, in an instant, like it had never existed.
I felt peaceful. Calm. Generally content.
All I can figure is that the pressure and busyness and overwhelm of the past few months all caught up with me that weekend before Christmas. And once we got to the end of the gauntlet, my mind let it all go and found true rest.
Now we’re in the middle of that twilight zone week between Christmas and New Year’s and I’m loving every minute of it.
No schedule. No work. No commitments. The kids are still enamored with their new toys, so they’re playing happily with little fighting.
I’m shocked to discover that I’m enjoying this week more than any of the holidays leading up to it.
I think my mind and body craved rest and forgot that it was on the horizon, so it freaked out a little bit.
The lesson? I overdid it on commitments and goals this fall. It didn’t help anyone.
It certainly didn’t help my kids to see me so stressed out and cranky. It didn’t help my business for me to feel stretched so thin. It didn’t help my marriage for me to snap at the drop of a hat. It didn’t help my family experience the holidays in a fun way when I was hanging on by a thread the entire time.
Next year I will commit to less and slow down. My little family of 5 is priority #1… and I seemed to forget that this year.
Next year I will focus on my family and only do what needs to be done so that we can enjoy our holiday and remember why we celebrate.
The first Christmas was pretty simple. I think ours can be too.
My word for 2020 is “growth”. A big part of that will be growing my ability to say “no” to things that I can’t handle well.
Taking on less so I can appreciate what I have and enjoy it more.
Happy New Year and cheers to slowing down in 2020!
About the Author: Chrissie is a copywriter by trade, specializing in helping online coaches reach their ideal client. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how she can spice up your copy to cultivate connection!