I am sure that many people encounter end of year anxiety and stress. For me as a work from home mother, and a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, there are a number of factors that come into play. I’m going to run through some of the many things that are running through my mind and my to do list.
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End Of School Year and Preparation For 2020
This time of year is so busy with the school. We have recently had my son’s Christmas concert which was super cute but of course it is an event that we have to prepare for so it causes stress and causes chaos in our routine. We also recently had my son’s meet and greet morning for Grade 1 which my hubby took him to because I threw a joint birthday party for my kids on that day and I was busy setting up!
My son is graduating from Grade R and starting big school next year so we are having a graduation ceremony this week followed the next day with my daughter’s primary school prize giving evening.
My daughter is still writing 2 tests a week right up to the end and she has just finished her last oral (Afrikaans) for the year on Friday so we have been scrambling to ensure she is prepared.
There is the Christmas present I still have to organize for my son for Santa’s visit to the school next week and a picnic to pack for my son’s second last day of school – they are having a beach day. Plus a class party on the last day of school and since I am the class mom I want to be there to help.
Thinking about presents – don’t forget about gifts for the teachers that us moms needs to get done this time of year too!
And of course then there are all the preparations for next year too that need to be considered – so fitting of uniforms, ordering of uniforms, ordering of stationery and text books.
My stomach is in knots just thinking about it all. These things alone are reason enough for end of year anxiety!
End Of Year Addiction and Trauma Triggers
Now if that is not enough to make the most stable person wobble then this time of year is certainly a trigger for me as a recovering addict and alcoholic!
The silly season does not bring up the best memories for me, such as spending the night before Christmas eve in jail after being arrested for drunk driving. Yes it was 15 years ago but I still get the heebie jeebies thinking about it.
Christmas even, Christmas day, New Year’s Eve, the anniversary of the date when I was raped as a teenager… all these dates are packed together, all these past traumas and more, looming for me to get through.
Yes I am 11 years clean and yes I have worked through these things and my triggers but I don’t think these things ever completely leave you.
Working From Home
As the end of the year approaches there are a few things that happen for me as a work from mother.
The nature of the work that I do means that there is not much new work that comes in over the festive season so things start slowing down. Which is really nice in a way since then I don’t have to work so hard, but it also very stressful since at the time when I need extra money to make it through the festive season expenses my income is less.
And most of the work that comes in during the last few weeks is urgent because my customers want it all done and dusted before everyone goes on leave! Double stress right?
Working from home with kids during the festive season is not easy. While I don’t do a huge amount of work over the festive season I don’t stop working completely and being at home alone with 2 kids for 6 weeks while working is not the easiest thing to cope with.
Thankfully my hubby will be on leave for a while and we will be going to my parents. My kids will spend a few days with them which will give me some child free time to get some work done and to rest a bit.
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My Miscarriage – A Sense Of Impending Doom
Each festive season is hard on me, with the hardest festive season being the one before last. It was the festive season before my daughter started Grade 1 so there was a lot of preparation and we moved our kids into a new school system. My anxiety levels were huge that festive season and I felt completely overwhelmed with it all.
I just wanted the festive season to be over and to get my kids started in their new schools so we could get back to routine in the new year. I just wanted to get a grip on everything.
The first day of school arrived and in that week we had the first parent teacher meetings and all the letters came home with the books that needed to be covered. I thought that things were going to stabilize.
Life had other plans for me. That first weekend after my kids started school I landed up in hospital. I found out I was pregnant but it was an ectopic pregnancy and I had to have an emergency operation to save my life.
Have you ever had a bad wobble and as you thought things were coming right everything just completely crashes?
That was the year my daughter started Grade 1 and this coming year my son is starting Grade 1.
Before I had my miscarriage I would look forward to the new school year when things would quieten down and things go back to normal. Now I am filled with anxiety for the festive season and I get this sinking feeling when I think of the new year too. Almost like a sense of impending doom. Is it going to crash again?
I wrote a post a few months back sharing about my miscarriage and how I feel like I grieve alone. I have not healed emotionally from my miscarriage. It has been nearly 2 years and I still feel raw about it. I still feel angry.
We didn’t want any more children so I had myself sterilized when my son was born. I never knew that there was such a high chance of me not only falling pregnant but then losing my baby. My feelings are still so conflicted.
Tips For Reducing Year End Anxiety & Getting Through The Festive Season Sober and Stress-Free
Now this post may have been rather heavy going but it really is not all doom and gloom. I just had to get real with my feelings and share with you all exactly what goes on for me during the festive season with end of year anxiety. To shed some light on the struggles that I am facing.
Not everyone will have the same difficulties but there are many people that struggle with anxiety, addiction and other mental health issues over the festive period. Or it may even be another time of year triggered by other events. So these tips apply to those situations too.
As we say in the 12 step program – look for the similarities and not the differences.
Take Note Of Triggers and Danger Dates
Do you know how many people have anxiety at the same times each year but don’t realize it? There are so many times I have been working with a sponsee and when they say that they are suddenly having anxiety for “no apparent reason” and then when we back track to the year before we find it is the same thing around the same date.
Keeping mental health notes is really helpful and I have a special section in my notebook for dates that I call danger dates. I also take note of certain situations and times that are triggers for me.
If you are aware of these things you can prepare for them in advance – as in before the wobbly hits rather than trying to do damage control in the middle of a wobbly! Make sure to have a plan in place for those days that are hard. Ask friends or family to be with you and let them know it is a difficult time for you.
While I don’t have regular counseling sessions anymore I usually have one or two before the start of the festive season for a tune up in preparation for what is to come.
Get Support, Do Research and Work On Yourself
There are so many other people that have gone through what I have been through. I have found support groups to be fantastic. I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, so I attend meetings and I work the 12 step program. I also have a wonderful group of friends and family that are fantastic support for me.
I regularly search online for information and I am always working on myself. Working the 12 step program on a daily basis is an amazing way to make sure that I am aware of myself, my thought patterns and my behaviour.
If you are also struggling with anxiety and other mental health issues, it is a great idea to find a support group.
Stay In The Moment and Remember I Will Be Fine
One moment I am fine and then things start crashing down. The overwhelming feels set in and I start feeling paralyzed.
This is when I need to draw myself back into the present moment and remember that everything is fine right now and that I will be fine. One of the things that I have learned in recovery is to always stay in the moment. I cannot let myself get sucked into worrying about tomorrow or beating myself up for yesterday.
Yes the festive season can be hard but right now I am in a safe place, surrounded by loved ones and there is nothing to worry about right now.
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There have been moments in my life when I have felt completely overwhelmed with worry and fear. Things become too much and I get consumed by it. It has taken a long time for me to get to a place where I can look at my anxiety and worry and say yes things are overwhelming, but I am going to be fine. Everything is exactly as it should be and I will move through this. I will learn and I will grow. #fear #anxiety #mentalhealth #worry #addiction #recovery #onedayatatime #stayinthemoment
Looking After Myself
When my to do list starts growing every day no matter how many things I manage to tick off my natural inclination is to want to cut out things that seem unimportant in the bigger picture such as having my morning beach walk or eating a healthy breakfast. I want to get to my desk and start working immediately.
However this could not be further from the truth. It is times like this when I need my exercise, fresh air and healthy food the most. These are the times that I need to stop myself from working late at night trying to shorten that to do list. In fact I need to go to bed earlier and get more rest.
I also need to pamper myself more.
Remembering To Breathe
There are two biggies here for me and I can hear my mother’s voice talking to me. She says “Breathe Lynne” and I think yeah right, of course I’m breathing… then realize I have not been breathing at all and I am feeling light headed.
So when I get stressed out I need to remember to actually draw breathe in.
Deep breathing exercises is the next thing that is important – deep breathing has many health benefits, including relaxation for the mind and body.
I find writing to be an amazing tool for my mental health. There are a number of ways that I write – firstly here on my blog where I get rather real with my thoughts and feelings. I find it very therapeutic to put it out there.
The other thing I do is scribble a lot. When things are bothering me I write it down, in a jumble as the thoughts come out. It’s messy as can be and I doubt anyone could ever read it. There are often things that I am struggling to get my head around but after writing it becomes clearer.
Remembering What I Am Grateful For
This is a biggie and it goes hand in hand with staying in the moment and writing. So often I get stuck on what I don’t have and I get worried about the future. I can very quickly forget about all the amazing things that I do have right now.
I find writing out a gratitude list to be very grounding. It can pull me out of fear, worry and resentment so quickly.
Slow And Steady
This goes hand in hand with a lot of the points I have already mentioned but I feel it deserves its own heading here. When things get rough I need to reign myself in and slow down.
I need to rest more, go to bed earlier, write less on my daily to do list and be kinder to myself.
The time for pushing myself will come but it is not now when things get so wobbly. Now is the time to put myself first and look after my mental health above all else. As a recovering alcoholic and addict if my mental health fails and I relapse everything will come crumbling down. At times like these it does not matter if I am late for an appointment or I don’t get to everything in the day, it matters that I make it to the end of the day in one piece.
Playing With My Kids
One thing that always works well for me is to prioritize my kids. Instead of pushing myself to get work done and getting stressed out the best thing is for me to shut down my laptop and play with them. They remind me of what is really important and why I work so hard. They remind me why I put my mental health first.
How do you cope during the festive season? Do you get end of year anxiety stress? I would love to hear your coping mechanisms!