As new variants emerge and we navigate the beginning of the year, it is increasingly important to manage our anxiety.
This time of year means different things to different people. For some, it is an incredibly happy time where they set intentions for the new year, and start fresh, but for others, it can be incredibly stressful. You may be dealing with dysfunctional family issues, chemical dependency, or mental health stressors that are ongoing and draining. You might be having a financial tug-of-war where your paycheck is not going to cover all your expenses. Financial anxiety is a challenge to many of us, and this year, we are facing another new year where we are having a surge of COVID-19 infections with the Omicron variant. I wish we could ignore it, but this is something we all need to pay attention to as we go forward.
Why would I want to bring up something as sobering as COVID-19 at this time of year? We are all so extremely sick of this virus and the impact is has had on all of our lives. But we are facing a surge with an extremely infectious variant of this disease. This is creating for some a challenge to their plans. Do you travel to be with family? Do you worry about who is vaccinated and who is not? Or are you just going to stay home alone? These are things you must think about and make decisions for yourself and your loved ones.
I am not going to push one way or the other regarding vaccinations and masking. That is not the purpose with this article. Instead, I want to encourage everyone to have more tolerance for each other and accept that not everyone believes what you believe. I saw a man escalate in a drug store because they were short staffed, and he wanted to buy a can of pop. The computers were not working right, and the staff was trying to resolve it as quickly as possible, but this customer was still irate and yelling because he could not buy his pop. It is ludicrous. He could have just left the store and went to a gas station and instead he escalated.
This week I have had 2 households of friends fall ill with COVID-19. I made soup and fed both households for a week. Let me tell you that doing something as simple as driving over gift baskets of soup and leaving it at their doorsteps meant more to me than anything. It gave me a way to work out my worries about their health. It gave me a way to help them with something as simple as feeding them when they could eat something. I do not share this to pat myself on the back. Instead, I share it to say that giving, making soup, and acting like an Uber Eats driver meant more to me than for the recipients receiving it. Isn’t this what we should be doing during this time? It is about giving and helping others, not necessarily receiving. That sometimes gets lost.
Remember to pick your battles. Do not get mad at unimportant things. Keep in mind that we are going through a challenging time and try to keep your priorities in line. What I encourage is for you to accept that whatever your loved ones need to do to feel comfortable this new year, give them that opportunity. Do not nag or make them feel badly if they choose to wear a mask or not. The same goes with any decisions people make whether or not to attend a family function. We need to respect that people have their own opinions about how they are going to manage their anxiety. We are allowed to feel and believe different things. My goal is to have an enjoyable time with little stress and anxiety. Since I cannot control how others act, the only control I have is for myself.
Let’s get through the next couple of weeks and remain in good health. Look for ways to reduce your stress. Look for ways to help others particularly those who are alone, depressed, or sick. They need our attention and support. Just remember to be kind to others. We need each other more than we would like to admit. That is how we can keep the anxiety down during this time.
Please email what you are doing to decrease your anxiety during this time at firstname.lastname@example.org