Sunday, December 22, 2013

The importance of a holly, jolly holiday

This is a stressful time of year, for all of the obvious reasons. Amid all of the holiday hustle and bustle, and the resulting anxiety, I find it useful to remember one of Dr. Low’s most innovative concepts: Humor is our best friend; temper (that is, fear and anger) is our worst enemy.

Fearful symptoms, of course, are no laughing matter, but sometimes it’s helpful to step back for a moment and consider just how ridiculous our fears can be. I used to fear leaving the toaster plugged in, worried that it could lead to a chain reaction resulting in my house burning down. Hmm, don’t hear about homes exploding in flames from toasters every day, though! Some of us will check, double check, and recheck to make sure the doors are locked, as if checking one more time really will satisfy us. We might worry endlessly about an upcoming presentation, of course convincing ourselves all the while that we are the only people who have such fears.

Dr. Low advises us to be realists and, in doing so, to recognize that our fears are not based in logic and facts. He notes, in fact, that feelings are not facts. We take ourselves too seriously, often as those around us simply shake their heads at our ungrounded fears. Although we crave sympathy, there is definitely value in taking stock of our symptoms and recognizing that some of the things we are afraid of can be downright silly. Some anxiety-causing situations (for example, divorce, death, and job loss) are certainly not laughing matters, but Dr. Low notes that these problems often do not have as paralyzing of an effect on our lives as the everyday trivialities that feed most of our symptoms.

This is not to say that the symptoms generated by trivialities don’t have a profound effect on our lives but, as Dr. Low so wisely pointed out, finding the humor even amid a flare of anxiety can help reduce its impact, providing us with a release to calm down. After all, we know how powerful a good laugh can be in changing our immediate outlook. To that end, I recently stumbled across a blog titled “26 problems only anxious people will understand.” This tongue-in-cheek post from BuzzFeed might just bring you a few chuckles and make the upcoming days a little more bearable.