The Post Holiday Wave Syndrome
Just as I expected, my inbox has blown up with people asking why they suddenly feel terrible after having had some better days under their belt. My reply is that chances are good that they are experiencing the “Post Holiday Wave Syndrome.” I certainly experienced it back when I was symptomatic. It happens, in part, because we are under more stress during the holidays, even if we don’t perceive that stress.
There is a lot going on during the holidays. People coming and going, parties, shopping, and high expectations to have a “perfect” holiday. For many of us, the holidays pack a big emotional punch, whether we are happy, sad, or excited. Everything is amplified. It’s a stressful time, whether that stress is good stress (eustress) or bad stress (distress). (And of course, there is all that holiday food that can rev us up!)
Our brains pick up on all the stress— the activities, expectations, etc., even if we aren’t aware of that happening. That “under the radar perception” is called neuroception, and it can operate totally outside of our consciousness. Our brains will signal our autonomic nervous system when an encounter (or thought) feels overwhelming (or threatening) and our nervous system will react accordingly.
The Holiday “Workout”
WIth all the unconscious and conscious input over the holidays, you can see why it would be easy for the nervous system to get quite a workout. And, remember, our nervous systems are fragile in benzo withdrawal. They can’t regulate themselves very well. When we get hyperaroused, it can take quite some time for our nervous system to “chill out.” It makes sense, then, that the holidays can bring on a wave of withdrawal symptoms (especially if you also ate a lot of treats or other foods that are known to ramp up benzo withdrawal symptoms.).
Even if you’ve been fairly stable, the holidays can rev things up, putting you back into a wave. That wave can even feel like a tsunami. It can be one of the worst waves you’ve felt, with a return of benzo withdrawal symptoms you thought were long gone. Or, you may even experience new benzo withdrawal symptoms. If this is your experience, you are in good company. It happens to quite a few people. Of course, seek medical attention if you are worried about a symptom(s). But know that even a tsunami type wave is normal for the healing process. Oftentimes, after a very bad wave, your baseline will be much better. A benzo veteran once told me that bad waves are an indication of our nervous system doing deep healing. If you think of your symptoms as evidence you are doing deep healing, you may be more able to cope with them.
How To Cope
Just like at any other time of the year, we need to follow the “rules” for coping with benzo withdrawal. Eat a clean diet. Avoid meds, vitamins or supplements that can rev us up or hinder our healing, avoid stress as much as possible (both eustress and distress) get plenty of rest, do some gentle exercise, practice patience, acceptance, gratitude, and a lot of soothing, positive self-talk. Know that your wave, like every other wave, will settle down. Do your best to not let it throw you into hopelessness or despair. Do your best to remain hopeful and positive.
Give Amy Some Love And Then Get Busy
I call my right amygdala (the region of our brain that is part of the fear reaction) Amy. Amy likes to tell me all kinds of scary stories, because, well, that’s her job. But I don’t take her too seriously. I usually pat her on the head, give her a hug, (love conquers fear) and get my hands and mind busy with something. As I’ve healed more and more, I see the enormous need for us to become “adrenal ninjas” always at the ready to choose to not buy into the fear our brain/nervous system wants us to believe. I hope that you’ll learn to deflect your mind’s dire messages of doom and gloom to the best of your ability as you heal.
Last Call For The Healing With Love Workshop
The Healing With Love workshop starts today. If you are interested in learning more about the healing power of love and its effects on our wellbeing, along with information about the brain and nervous system, please join us. I won’t be accepting any new students after Wednesday, so if think you want to join, please do so soon.