THE STRESS OF CHRISTMAS

by StressWinner on December 12, 2012

“Christmas: when you buy this year’s presents with next year’s money!”.

                                                                                      (Source unknown)

Kids love Christmas, but sadly, some adults don’t. For too many people, Christmas is not a joyful holiday, it’s just a time of extra stress and sometimes real pain. What’s most stressful – the rush and hurry, too many things to do and the strain on your bank account? Or dealing with difficult people you may only see once a year? The pain of loss and grief is magnified at this time, family conflicts may escalate and for separated families there are often no satisfactory arrangements.

To reduce the strain, first make a ‘worry list’ of Christmas stresses your family faces. Make your plans early -and start action in September! Aim for a simple, fun Christmas, and brainstorm solutions as a family. List all the things you need to do – dates. Use a big family calendar and a ‘daytimer’ type diary for yourself.

Delegate chores to family members, and remember, you don’t have to match what your mother did. Try catalogue shopping – have a theme for gift shopping, and you can do it all in one stop. Ignore perfection – and accept disasters and problems. And keep your sense of humour ready!

Set a strict budget, and remember that “Children need your presence much more than your presents.” A present can simply be to tell someone how much you appreciate them – with a letter, a photo or video. Encourage kids, to give simple inexpensive presents such as a gift of chores, or things they make themselves. Doing good for others can create more pleasure than spending money, so why not help needy or neglected kids out, donate time to local charities, or invite a less fortunate person to your dinner?

All kinds of people can create Christmas stress. Dealing with an alcoholic? – check with Al-Anon for a list of strategies to use. Scheduling conflicts? Make compromises, alternate places and people. Use assertiveness when telling relatives you can’t do everything this year. Refuse to let people put unreasonable demands on you and learn to defuse you own anger and avoid guilt if these are a problem.

For divorced or bereaved people Christmas will often be a sad time. Don’t be afraid to cry as much as you need to, and find support wherever you can. Life will never be the same, but it can eventually be good even though different. If you’re lonely at Christmas, find others in the same boat and celebrate with them.

Watch T.V. less and play more together as a family. Don’t forget the outdoors – a quiet walk in the snow is a good chance to unwind. Make time to relax – take three slow breaths, let tension out, and focus on some special seasonal sensation.

Even if you’re not Christian, focusing on the spiritual side of the celebration can put the strains and stresses of the season into perspective and lead to a sense of wonder and joy. Yes, Christmas is busy, but at worst it’s another opportunity to grow through challenge. At best it will be the the most wonderful week of the year, so have fun!

Man: “That’s a terrific train set. I’ll take it.” Sales Assistant: “I’m sure your son will just love playing with it.” Man: “You may be right. I’ll take two.”

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