HOLIDAYS & SOCIAL ANXIETY

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The holiday season is officially upon us, in case you have not noticed. It is almost nearly impossible to walk into a retail store without becoming overwhelmed with Christmas trees, holiday decorations, and… of course holiday shopping deals or travel packages. It's safe to say the holiday season is in full force, whether you are ready or not!

Personally, I LOVE the holidays. It is my favourite time of the year. I get to cook up a storm, host friends, see a couple of movies, rest and eat to my heart's content. Like my mother, I love the complexity of the holidays and yet the simple things associated with this season such as travelling to my hometown, making a big batch of chin-chin, road trips, roasting chicken, making her famous pasta salad, listening to Christmas music, attending holiday festivals, creating new recipes, and did I mention cooking?

I am a true introvert, but the holidays are the only time i get to lay aside my introverted nature and party to my heart's content. Office Christmas parties tend to really freak me out around this time of year because of the social obligations like the pressure of buying the perfect gift for your colleague.  Also, I cannot understand how people fight for parking spots, and the ridiculously long lines at the grocery stores and malls so, I generally avoid malls around this time of year; or at least try to! Sometimes I look at the long line and think, “Do people actually take time to enjoy the holidays”? 

Don’t ask me! Sadly, I am not alone as approximately 40% of adults have social anxiety around the holidays and many turn to food and alcohol as a coping mechanisms, which can result in a downward spiral. Is it possible for individuals to overcome their social phobias and holiday anxiety? Do you think we could stop, take a moment and breathe or have a slice of apple pie or simply just think about the rest of the world that cannot afford to enjoy the holiday season?

Whether we acknowledge it or not, there are thousands of people who dread the holiday or make up excuses not to travel home or be around people or simply enjoy it. They like many others are like me; the ones who feel an emotional burden around this time of year because they are without a loved one or are reminded about a family member who passed away or those who are riddled with mental illness or substance abuse; those who may feel abandoned or undeserving.

It is only human nature that we become completely wrapped up in the thrills of the holiday, the stress of a holiday party and the awkwardness of deciding what to buy and who not to purchase a gift for or wether we would get gifts in return. Each year, I find it incredibly important to do something new; I focus more on being grateful for what I have and for those in my life. I think about the children who are without parents, parents who lost their children and the emotions they must feel during this time of year, individuals with mental illness and addiction. Although I personally find myself struggling around this time of year because of the loss of my Dad; I have learnt to be more present and be involved in different activities like volunteering or doing some charity work.

My wish for this holiday season is to inspire individuals to practice gratitude, find hope in friends and family and always remember nothing in life is permanent. My hope is that we all learn to overcome our battles and appreciate what this upcoming holiday season will bring. Like Hamilton Wright Mabie rightly said, “Blessed is the season, which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love”. This is the season of love.


ONYINYE NWATU

Onyinye Nwatu is the Creative Director and founder of Kitchen Freak Girl, a Nutrition and Weight Management Consultant who believes that food should be approached differently and with utmost care. Her passion for healthy living led her to create ‘Get Fit With Onyi’ and ‘Honor my Curve’, a fitness buddy movement curated to change the way people see workout activities. Onyinye is a Food Blogger and a lifestyle contributor for Musing on Paper.

You can find some of her works on www.kitchenfreakgirl.com. You can also find her on Instagram here: @kitchenfreakgirl

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