Christmas can be a stressful time of year for many people. It can put a strain on relationships, bring old grudges and problems to the fore, and also be a very sad and lonely time for some people.
With the expectation that you should be enjoying yourself with friends and family, the expense of gifts and nights out, and the huge amount of work it takes to create a wonderful Christmas for your nearest and dearest, it’s no wonder that many people feel overwhelmed.
For those people who are far from home, lost a loved one, or perhaps have separated in the past year, Christmas can trigger anxiety, stress and feelings of loneliness.
This is perfectly normal and understandable. If Christmas is making you feel depressed or stressed, this is not because you are a modern day Scrooge.
Feeling Depressed At Christmas
Due to the commercialism of Christmas, we’re all under a huge amount of pressure to make everything perfect. The Christmas card perfect family, a stack of presents under the tree, your home looking like a cover shoot for an interiors magazine, a table laden with home cooked Christmas food.
If we can’t meet these expectations it’s no wonder that many people feel depressed and stressed. And some people go into the process of self-reflection and thought about the shortages in life and compare themselves to other people. This brings added pressure and they spend a lot more than they should on presents etc. that they don’t have. This can spiral out of control and get them into debt.
Some people deal with loneliness at Christmas due to loss of a loved one, while some deal with family conflicts, as it is the one time that everyone gets together. It may also be your ‘first’ Christmas after a life-changing event – for example, divorce, the loss of a job, or illness.
These factors can all come to a head over the Christmas period. Below are some of the steps that you can take to manage your stress and your finances:
- Identify the reason that you are stressed: such as financial pressures. Set a budget and plan the things you can do and eliminate the things you cannot. Money saving tips can be saying to your family and friends that this year you will be buying gifts only for the kids. Or suggest a “secret Santa” for adults so to reduce the financial burden on everyone.
- Research some cost cutting ways that you can have fun. Don’t let money saving spoil your fun. If you want to socialise organise a BBQ or a house party where all the guests bring a plate of food so that costs are shared.
Family Conflicts And How To Deal With Them
Some families struggle with getting on with one another and there is a lot of power play in the mix. Also, divorce among some of the family members means that unresolved conflicts can trigger stress and anxiety.
- Be realistic about what will occur at the Xmas celebrations – it might not be perfect. Plan how you will deal with the stress and anxiety if it occurs.
- If there are children from the different families getting together at Xmas time, be considerate and put the conflicts aside. Focus on having fun and making Xmas a special day for everyone.
- Remember there can be conflicts but try to stay calm, don’t drink more than you have to and don’t use it to cope or take your frustration out on your loved one.
- Know what your triggers are if your family argues on a certain topic avoid it.
- Take baby steps when you are communicating with a member of your family that in the past there has been some friction, don’t bring up the past hurts or be sarcastic but try to improve the relationship by sticking to ‘safe’ subjects.
- Breathe deeply if you get annoyed and something someone says, remember it’s what happens at Xmas and stay calm as it’s a special day.
Ways To Manage Your Loneliness
If you feel isolated if you have been recently divorced or a recent break-up, or have lost a loved one it can be really tough when everyone else appears to be having a good time. Here are some tips to cope:
- Be honest and acknowledge that it is going to be difficult. Embracing the sadness will help with dealing with the grief. By doing this, being honest will release the sadness and loss, which will reduce long lasting, issues with blocked emotions.
- Connect with new people, your friends and family. Call family even if they live far away, keep in touch via phone calls, emails. Also be patient if they take a while to respond as many people do get caught up with their own preparations.
- Help or volunteer at a charity shop or a local shelter. They need help, especially at Xmas time. You will connect with different people and make friends and feel good.
- Attend events like Xmas lighting ceremonies, Christmas carol singing, markets. Try to get out and be around people and this will help relieve loneliness.
- Accept invitations for Xmas day and don’t stay in and feel lonely. Plan your whole day, have breakfast, attend the local church for a service, or take a walk and then have a wonderful meal and watch Xmas movies.
Cognitive behaviour therapy helps to recognise behaviours that will contribute to anxiety and stress during the Xmas period. If you are already feeling panicky about Christmas and think that it’s going to be hard, you could get help now.
CBT can help you to think positively, recognise the triggers that can lead to stress and feelings of depression, and act before they overwhelm you.
6 Quick Tips To Reduce Depression And Stress:
- Evaluate what your expectations are at Christmas so you are making doable plans.
- Be present and available when you are around your family – put cell phones and Facebook away and focus on having fun with them.
- Get enough sleep and eat healthy meals so it improves your mood and you don’t get irritable at small things. Also, take the time to exercise, it will relieve stress and pent up emotion.
- Delegating tasks and will reduce the overwhelm, also it’s a good opportunity to connect and spend time with each other.
- Set aside differences with members of your family, it will make the celebrations more fun, and improve relationships long term.
- Stay within your budget and do not allow yourself to compete with other people over expensive Christmas presents.
If you are worried about how you will cope emotionally over Christmas, please do get in touch to explore whether CBT and hypnotherapy can help. Call 0796 715 1790 or email [email protected]