Ho…Ho…Ho…Christmas time is supposed to be a happy time of the year. Yet as Psychologists we see many people struggling.
Society has created a myth that Christmas is the ultimate time of the year when everyone gathers together to celebrate the perfect day! The media plays on this “Christmas perfection” and assumes that all families have a “designer” Christmas. Happy families waking to Christmas trees of fairy lights in two-parent families with a pine-tree that sparkles & gifts wrapped in flawless red bows & gold glitter boxes followed by a lunch of roast turkey and/or glazed ham with endless champagne and candle-lit moments of laughter with perfect children & sleeping babies who wear new santa hats!
Well Ho Ho Ho… here’s the reality…
Everyone’s world is different. We must never compare ourselves with others. Many people do enjoy Christmas & it makes them feel happy. It’s a time of family, of giving & summer holidays. This is to be embraced & enjoyed.
Reasons why Christmas time is difficult for people…
- Firstly, many people are physically & mentally tired at this time of the year.
- If you are lonely or living alone or living under a bridge or on the streets; it heightens the loneliness you may feel. Not everyone has family. Many people are alone.
- Some people in our lives are no longer present: perhaps passed away. So Christmas may hold memories that can no longer be shared with the person you loved. Missing a loved one and grieving is difficult.
- If you are recently separated or divorced or have shared custody of children you once had, it can be a sad & lonely time of the year. If you’re newly divorced, the holidays may remind you of times that were once happy. They can add to your grief. It may be difficult for children of divorced parents who have to balance seeing two sets of parents or the next generation who have to see many sets of extended family to visit on the one day
- When you’re not speaking to a relative, family get-togethers can cause all sorts of emotions like guilt, resentment, or inner conflict. Communication can be difficult.
- Trying to please all of your relatives – deciding what to get, whom to see, and what to do – can make some people feel guilty.
- Many people have family or friends living in far-away-lands.
- Christmas can be a time of fears & phobias & anxieties associated with this time of the year. These fears may have developed due to past Christmas experiences.
- Christmas can be stressful due to an increase in activities.
- Christmas may bring the expectation of expenses. Not having enough money to buy presents can lead to feelings of guilt, sadness and failure as a provider to your family & friends.
- Many people borrow to the max & credit card budgets get out of control at this time of the year. The prospect of debt for the new year is easy to ignore in the short–term but this delayed stress catches up.
- Christmas has a general feeling that you need to be busy socially.
Practical helpful hints for surviving Christmas this year
Set personal limits about money spent on gifts & things.
- Set limits about the number of social events you can realistically attend.
- Be grateful & thankful for what you have in your life, rather than
- what you don’t have. Accepting this can make you feel more settled.
- Grieve if & when you need to.
- Minimise the stress in your head. It’s only another day.
- Get organised & in get early to make plans that will work for your family or yourself.
- Ask for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Sharing the load can be helpful & reduce the tension & stress.
- Take action and do interesting easy, fun & “light” things eg: Go for a walk, sit outside, go to the beach, get active,
- do some exercise.
- Focus your thoughts on all the good things about Christmas. The summer is for everyone.
- Make time to rest & relax.
- Don’t isolate yourself.
- Seek professional help if required. See below.
It’s Christmas time-keep it simple. It’s just another day.
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