The 4th of July is a time for BBQs, spending time with family and friends and celebrating our country’s independence. However, for many people, such as combat veterans, people who have been personally impacted by gun violence, or people who suffer from severe anxiety, fireworks can be stressful and debilitating. For others, the holidays can be an unpleasant reminder of friends or family members who are no longer with us, the holiday highlighting the absence of that person.
If you are anxious about this 4th of July, you’re not alone. While it can be frustrating to feel stressed and anxious while everyone else seems to be celebrating, you don’t have to succumb to feelings of helplessness. Take control of what you can, and embrace these 3 tips to avoid anxiety this 4th of July.
Joining a support group and sharing your experience with others who have experienced similar trauma can be very therapeutic. If you aren’t sure where to start, Pain Resource offers several support groups online where people can share their stories and support one another.
MentalHealthAmerica.net is another resource where you can search for support groups in your area. Often times we isolate ourselves when we’re feeling sad or anxious, and while joining a support group might not sound like a great idea, the benefits that stem from attending can be innumerable and help significantly reduce your anxiety. Simply sharing the emotional load that you’re carrying and feeling heard and understood is a very powerful experience.
Keep your plans flexible. If you’re invited to a friend’s house to watch the fireworks, for example, give them a heads up that you might have to take off early. You can tell them that you’re feeling anxious or make up a story about a prior engagement. The important thing is that you’re putting your mental health first. Giving yourself an “out” will make you feel more comfortable, providing an escape from that which might cause stress and anxiety.
If you’re feeling very stressed or anxious, or are worried about a panic attack coming on, try meditating. You can find meditation videos for free on YouTube, or use apps such as Calm or Headspace, which can be downloaded to your smartphone.
The key with medication is to focus on your breathing. When you focus on your inner calm, the outside world becomes more separate and has less of an influence over your mood. You can also tune out the fireworks by putting on headphones with some relaxing music.
This 4th of July doesn’t have to be stressful. Follow these tips, and please comment below with tips that have helped you reduce stress and anxiety during this time.