Baby, it's cold outside. And what does that mean for those of us with anxiety? A lot. Between the stress of the holidays, final exams, and being cooped inside because of the weather, we have a lot to be anxious about. But what can we do about it? Probably more than you think.
1. Simplify your holidays
Don't try to cram every holiday party and family event into your schedule. It's a crazy time of year and people understand when you are over-scheduled. Schedule some time alone. Find some downtime where you can lounge in your yoga pants with a good magazine. Put it on your calendar if you have to.
2. Prepare for your tests
It's possible you've already completed your exams but that's the thing about college—there will be more. There are some good tips for relieving test day anxiety and you should probably follow them. Remember that preparation is everything so don't try to cram. Eat and sleep well the night before, and take advantage of extra test time if your professor is understanding. Being honest with your teachers about your anxiety may lead to more time on the test, some strategies on how to best be prepared, or possibly some insight into what will be covered. Take advantage of those office hours!
3. Get outside
If you're not a skier, well, snow sucks. And if you are a skier but you live in Iowa, then you're not much farther ahead in the game. Exercise is always important. But if you have anxiety, exercise is crucial. It has been found to improve mood and sleep among many other benefits. Ice skating can be a fun winter excursion with friends, and sledding is always good for a laugh if you don't ski. Local rec centers often have tracks you can walk on. Ask a friend to join you—having a friend to commit to might give you the motivation to go.
4. Watch your social calendar
The holidays are infamous for over-commitment. For those of us with anxiety, social situations can be exhausting. Be good to yourself. Limit parties and high-energy social situations to three a week. If that exhausts you too much, make it two. Get plenty of rest before you go out and be sure to schedule alone time for yourself afterward to recharge.
5. Take your medication
It is not shameful to be on medication for anxiety. If you've been prescribed medication for your anxiety, take it! It won't help you if it's just sitting in your medicine cabinet unused. And if you don't take medication and are struggling, see a medical professional to discuss your options. There are many people with anxiety who say that medication is a game-changer. If you are against medication look into meditation and exercise. Some people swear that meditation is just as good as medication for treating anxiety. The important thing is to find a strategy that works for you.
Whatever you do this winter, be good to yourself. Take the necessary steps to treat your anxiety, limit your exposure to triggering events, and be kind to yourself. You can enjoy this winter if you're prepared.