Christmas for many is a happy time with good food, parties and family gatherings – or at least that’s the idea!
For many people though, the festive season ends up being stressful, resentful and often with deep sadness – along with heightened anxiety, grief or other mental health issues.
The pressure of shopping, organising sumptuous food for family gatherings, complying with religious traditions and social commitments can be overwhelming.
For the mums who normally have the most preparation to do, this can be particularly stressful with the end of year school functions to attend and the unrealistic present lists from the children.
The financial pressures can be immense.
Christmas cheer sounds like a good idea at the time. But then we get super-stressed and tired, causing arguments with our family and loved ones.
Some of the reasons we get so stressed at Christmas time are:
working the extra hours to get our work finished before the holidays
worrying about the cost of all the extra food and presents
squeezing an already tight schedule to do the shopping
too many family, work and social commitments
not finding time and space for ourselves
Make sure you find time for yourself; time out just to relax and be in your own space. When things get too hard try going for a walk, put your headphones on and listen to relaxing music or meditate.
Celebrating Christmas away from family and friends can be lonely. If you’re spending it overseas volunteer to help with a charity lunch or at a homeless shelter. Helping others is a great way to feel the joy of Christmas.
Spend the day with friends who are also away from home, plan some activities like playing some board games or watch some festive movies with your favourite Christmas food. There are always lots of community events like carols and markets to visit.
Dealing with a split family can be hard – who do you go to? Mum or dad? You don’t want to upset either, but the pressure and guilt can be enormous.
Work out a Christmas plan, talk to both parents on how you are going to spend your time, alternating each year.
Below are “10 Commandments to Reduce Stress at Christmas time” that you could use as your mantra when it gets tough and you need to be strong!
Thou shalt not be perfect or even try
Thou shalt not try to be all things to all people
Thou shalt leave undone things that ought to be done
Thou shalt not spread thyself too thin
Thou shalt learn to say “NO”
Thou shalt make time for thyself
Thou shalt learn to switch off and do nothing regularly
Thou shalt be boring, untidy and unattractive at times
Thou shalt not feel guilty
Thou shalt not be thine own enemy
Come and have a chat if you would like help and strategies to negotiate the festive season minefield.