What causes Christmas stress?

Christmas is almost here.  The best season of the year for everyone right?!  Wrong.  Christmas is not always the most enjoyable time for many people.  It can be a time of stress, anxiety, disappointment and/or loneliness.  Some feel the pressure of isolation, some the financial pressures and some the increased family conflict that can occur.  Christmas and Holiday Season can be a very busy time.  There are many reasons for heightened stress at this time of the year, including:

  • Isolation
  • Financial pressure
  • Being time poor
  • Family tension(s)
  • Bereavement
  • Separation and divorce
  • Blended families
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Reflection

Any or all of these situations can cause some people great stress.

What is stress?

Stress is a normal part of life.  It is your body’s reaction to changes that require you to make an adjustment or respond.  The body can react to these changes through emotional, physical and mental responses.  Anxiety, anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, problems concentrating, and mood swings are some of the signs that your stress level may be heightened.

How to beat Christmas stress and anxiety ??

How can I avoid Christmas stress?

Some tips to try to alleviate stress at Christmas are:

General Health – Get plenty of sleep and maintain any exercise regimes you may be participating in

Budget – calculate your budget and endeavour to get your Christmas shopping completed early.  Don’t overspend your budget.  You put it in place for a reason and don’t need the financial pressure come January.

Christmas Lunch – Delegate tasks and share the load.  Remember to include costings in your budget.

Set realistic expectations – If there are family members who have tension between them, it’s realistic to expect it will also be there at Christmas.  Try to avoid any triggers that you are aware of (e.g. Politics, religion, sport, etc). Organise games or activities, keep their minds and bodies busy.

Isolation – if you find yourself away from loved ones try to find friends who may be in a similar situation.  Plan a special day for yourself.  Consider volunteering with a charity Christmas lunch.

Split Families – these can be tricky situations. Make sure to plan ahead.  Discuss with all parties what is the best plan for Christmas Day and Holiday period.  Try to find a plan that is close to everyone’s choice.  If there are children involved, any tension or issues being experienced by parents should be kept to a time when the children are not within earshot.

Bereavement – a significant occasion such as Christmas can be a very difficult time for a family that is grieving.  People display grief in different ways.  Some may wish to reminisce, others may prefer not to discuss the situation at all.  If you feel you can talk together about a lost loved one, share memories and tears, it may help.  If you feel you are restricted with what you can discuss, it might help to ask friends for support or to talk to someone neutral (bereavement counsellor).

Who can I talk to if I am feeling Christmas stress?

Someone to Talk to – If you feel you need to discuss your situation further or just need to voice your thoughts to someone not close to the situation, there are counsellors available 24 hours a day at Lifeline 131114 and Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

Take time for yourself, it is a holiday after all!  Be grateful for the people around you and enjoy them.  Be mindful of those who may be struggling and spread kindness where and when you can.  You’ll feel better for it.  Enjoy your Holidays!