Panic Attacks: Self-Care During the Holidays

Holy, moly.

Are you feeling the craziness of the holidays?

Are you struggling and feel like everyone is enjoying their holidays while you’re slumped over your gift wrapping station with a bottle of merlot and a few tears sliding down your face thinking about the never-ending credit card debt you’ve racked up while your boyfriend sits on the couch and asks what’s for dinner and your dog drools over the wood floors you JUST finished Swiffering?
Guys, I’m struggling.

And I’m writing this post for all those who are struggling right now too. 
You’re not alone.
​And it’s okay to feel a little (or a lot) overwhelmed

My Super Fun Panic Attack

So let’s talk about my fun panic attack.

I had a bit of a panic attack today because I let my anxiety build, and I haven’t been taking care of myself.

I skipped therapy last week because I was too tired. 
I haven’t been getting enough sleep. 
I haven’t done yoga in a few weeks. 

The thing is, I sometimes choose things that I think are self-care, but are really self-sabotage, procrastination or avoiding my issues.

You know what that looks like—falling into the “Treat yourself” mindset to justify avoiding those root issues. 
A drink instead of a warm aromatherapy bath to ease my stress.
A bag of chocolate Kit-Kats instead of some meditation or art or stretching to clear my mind. 
Buying all of Amazon’s “Deals of the Day” instead of managing my budget. 
​Staying up binge watching Mad Men instead of going to bed like I should so I can stop being exhausted all the time. ​

Self-care isn’t always the path of least resistance.

I’m not always on the top of my game especially as I’m still learning how to do all this magical self-care. 

I am learning and trying to give myself what I need instead of what I want to distract myself from the actual feelings I have and the actual tasks that keep building up on my to do list.

So today, when the anxiety zapped me like a slow electrocution spreading nervous static energy over my EVERYTHING– instead of running to get ice cream or brownies or take a nap, I made myself sit there and feel it for a second.

I let it take me over which is actually a terrifying task.

​ I leaned in to let it be instead of fighting for it to go away. I tried to figure it out. Understand it. Why I was feeling this way? Why did I feel like I wanted to jump out of my skin? Why was I feeling like I needed to run away and keep running until I get to the edge of the earth and it all falls off?


And then I started to write.

Chloé’s Wise Mind: Hey you. What’s going on? You okay? You seem a little freaked.

Chloé’s Thoughts:  I don’t know why my anxiety is so high right now.  I just know I feel like giving up, and crawling into a hole, and hiding. So much of it stems from things that I’m not sure are super actionable right now. Like the way my gut is protruding from my yoga pants makes me feel gross and uncomfortable in this body. I want so badly to see it as something that doesn’t define my value but something about it makes me hot, and sweaty, and it feels like the energy of the world has been painted on my skin in a panicky slime. 

Chloé’s Wise Mind: Tell me more about that.

Chloé’s Thoughts: I hate feeling this way. I pace. I get nothing done because I can’t stop and focus. Every time I stop to focus, I think of something else that I should be worrying about. And I want to scream. I want to cry and throw a tantrum, and throw out all of my clothes that make me “feel fat” or show off my gut, but I am trying SO HARD to be body positive. But I am so uncomfortable in this body. I am so uncomfortable that I don’t know how to start loving it. 

Chloé’s Wise Mind: Slow down, it’s okay. What exactly are you feeling?

Chloé’s Thoughts: I feel like a failure because I can’t be a happy fat person. And I can’t figure out how to lose weight. I feel overwhelmed because the house is always a mess. I feel sweaty and gross. I feel angry because I bit off more than I can chew, and I’m supposed to be adulting but I have more and more responsibilities in the house and in life and they all suck. And I didn’t ask for them. And I’m mad because I sound like a whiny baby and I don’t want to be a whiny baby. I’m frustrated because I feel like I keep screwing up my relationship because I can’t learn how to properly communicate and I get mad or offended or fed up too easily and then I just want to give up. I’m frustrated because I want to be loved for who I am. I want to feel good about who I am. I don’t want to always have to be the strong one because I never feel that strong. And I am so HOT AND SWEATY–

Chloé’s Wise Mind: STOP. STOP. Ok. Deep breath. Chill for a second.

Chloé’s Thoughts: BUT–

Chloé’s Wise Mind: No seriously. Stop for a second. Stop with the pity party and get pro-active. What do you need to feel better right now?

Chloé’s Thoughts and Wise Mind Working Together to Problem Solve: Ugh.

Well. I need to know that it’s okay that I have gained weight and now sport a lovely roll around my middle. 
My size has nothing to do with my value. 
I can buy new clothes if I need to. It doesn’t matter. 
You CAN be happy at any size. 
You CAN feel good at any size. 
You’re adorable. No one cares. 
And if they do they can screw themselves because the only person who needs to be concerned with your body is you and you have control over your own thoughts.

I need to know that it’s okay that my relationship is not perfect. 
What matters is that I WANT to work on this relationship and make it last. It means learning how to be more patient (a lifelong struggle), communicating better, not feeding off each other’s stress, and making compromises as well as creating boundaries. 
It means letting go of my preconceived notions about relationships and commitment. 
We are stronger and better every week, and even when we have setbacks, we continually handle them better. That matters.

The house NEVER NEEDS to be clean. 
You will not die if your house is not clean. It’s okay that your house is not perfect. 
​You do not need to be as clean as your mom is. No one is as clean as your mom is. Do not worry about that. No one gives a shit. 

I’m going to take off my pants. That will actually make me feel better.

​You know what the craziest thing is about this dialogue that happened in my head? As short and quick as it was, it actually worked. I felt so much better after this hectic and slightly insane conversation with myself. 

And taking off my pants. That helped immediately too.

I’m writing this because this time of the year is especially hard for so many reasons. 

I feel like the pressure is so much higher to do ALL the things.
The house must be perfectly clean because friends are coming over. Laundry has to be done before you leave town to spend time with family. 
Dog must be taken care of because the weather is causing him some major skin and ear issues. 
You haven’t gone to the dentist all year, and your insurance starts over in January so you have to squeeze that in too. 
Food must be prepped and frozen so that you don’t show up to Christmas without any cookies. 
Presents must be bought and wrapped. 
The tree has to be watered so it doesn’t die before the main event. 
Deadlines approach as the year closes out, and dinner remains uncooked because who has time for that when everything else is going on! 
Exercise? Yoga? Forget it. 
Shaving my legs? What? Why???

And on top of it, everyone—old friends, new friends, colleagues, family, distant relatives, old roommates—EVERYONE wants to get together this time of the year because it’s a magical time. 

 It’s time for friends and for family, and while that is a total blessing and completely wonderful, it can also be totally overwhelming for people, especially those of us who pose as extroverts but are actually outgoing introverts who need time alone in order to feel whole and good and in touch with reality.

I have had so little time to myself lately, arguably this whole year. And it’s taking its toll on my mental health. I’ve had something to do every night of the week for almost two weeks straight, and my routine that helps me keep my sanity has been nearly nonexistent since October.

(SIGH. Getting back to the point.)

So this is for you. 

If you’re struggling, know you are not alone. 

I know the songs tell you to have a holly, jolly, Christmas, and that it’s the best time of the year.
It’s okay if you don’t feel that way. It’s okay if you’re overwhelmed. It’s okay if you feel like you’re failing or flailing to keep up with appearances. 
Don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel bad because you’re struggling. You don’t need to. You’re good. We’re all going a little crazy, and it’s up to you to say ENOUGH.

It’s up to us to say ok. I need to chill. I need to skip this party. I need to not go to this cookie exchange. I need to relax and take a bath.

Santa sometimes has panic attacks too. He looks stressed out because Clo Bare is talking about panic attacks during the holidays.

Chloé’s Wise Mind: Try to take care of yourself, so that you can better enjoy the rest of the holidays.  It’s okay to be stressed. But you know you can choose to not be stressed. You just have to make the effort.

Chloé’s Thoughts: Why can’t you just let me curl up in the corner with a tray of brownies?

Chloé’s Wise Mind: You can. But it gets you nowhere. If you need your brownies, go ahead. But then, get back up, cancel some plans if you need to, and take action to take care of yourself instead of avoiding how you’re feeling. Remember that you are very lucky this holiday season. Replace your anxiety with gratitude, and that horrible feeling will slowly but surely lessen. 

Lots of love to you all this holiday season. Remember you’re good. Remember nothing is perfect. And remember that no one cares that you haven’t dusted or shaved your legs.

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