Stressed During Christmas?
The Christmas decorations are going up. Everyone is talking about presents and what they will be doing for the holidays. It’s that time of the year again. Christmas and holiday times are traditionally about having fun and spending time with your loved ones, but with this comes many pressures and STRESS! What presents are you going to buy, how much to spend without blowing the budget, how are you going to deal with all those relations visiting and who is going to prepare all that extra food for all those people? Not to forget the anxiety and stress of having everything just “perfect” because Uncle Ralph will be having a good look around your place!
I have always found that there are many patients we see in the clinic who complain of fatigue, anxiety and stress around the Christmas holiday period.
Maybe you are going through a hard time with your relationship during the holidays and are trying to put on a brave face, you could be feeling somewhat anxious and nervous around family and friends. Let’s look at what the holidays are really like and see if we can come up with some coping strategies to get through the silly season. I know it is supposed to be a time of family fun and great times, but for some Christmas can be in fact the most stressful time of the year.
So what changes during the holidays?
When the holiday periods come around, things seem to change at a superficial level and sometimes people expect you to change along with this. But what has really changed in your life? Problems you experienced before the holidays will not magically disappear just because the Christmas tree is up. The bills still keep coming in and you are not working.
The holidays are there to be enjoyed, but you also need to be realistic and true to yourself. Keeping up your regular routine is very important during this period. Don’t get caught up in the “holiday cheer” and ignore the things you should be doing. It pays to follow a few basic rules to minimise your stress levels.
Holidays can be used as an excuse to over eat
It can be very tempting to get stuck into all the food that usually gets cooked during holiday times. Enjoy the food but try and keep a balance. If you eat too much at lunch, try to have a healthy (and lower calorie value) meal at dinner. We all know what happens if we over indulge during the holidays – Poor energy, a bad head and a big belly !
Holidays can be used as an excuse to drink
It be tempting to have plenty of alcohol with your partner or with friends in the evening. If your friends are all doing it the pressure can also mount up. Just because everyone else is losing their head, it doesn’t mean you should also! It makes sense to have a few alcohol-free days each week to give your digestive system and liver a break. Try to be around people who are keeping themselves busy not “boozy”. Try going for walks, play some sports or board games rather than giving into the bad habits, such as drinking.
Holidays can be used as a reason to drop the exercise
If you play sports, ride your bike or enjoy jogging, keep it up. If you are not normally active, this may be the time to get out there and try some physical exercise. You will be able to burn off the extra kilos, feel better and have some time out from the family..
Holidays can be used an excuse for not getting enough sleep
Being stressed around this time will be more severe if you are tired. Try to get plenty of sleep during the holidays. You are not working are you? Get away from that computer or emails! Maybe you could sneak off for an afternoon nap every now and then. You may want to try to relax more, this is especially important if you suffer from burn-out, fatigue or anxiety.
Family tension is common at Christmas.
Holidays are a time for coming together with family and friends. The house fills up and the noise levels rise, the little kids come over and create total chaos as the household has to be re-arranged and “baby proofed”. This can be a time of great fun, but it can also be a bit too much to handle and send you into a panic at the mere thought! There is also the problem of family feuds. Some family members just don’t seem to be able to get on, and just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean their differences will melt away. What can you do when it all gets a bit much? Did you really need to have to have relations over who you knew would bring tension and friction to the household? Perhaps you may want to rethink having your noisy and boozy Uncle Ralph over next Christmas.
Relax, calm it down a little!
Sometimes things can move so fast during the holidays. Everyone wants to catch up with you, little jobs like peeling spuds keep arising, the kids want to play with you and everywhere you turn there are people. Your bathroom is forever occupied and so is your favourite armchair by Uncle Ralph! Your kitchen is a perpetual mess and you are forever making tea and coffee. Slow down, let other help out and delegate if necessary. Find some time for yourself every day. Get yourself into a quiet room and have some time to relax. Deep breathing, stretching or even meditation, are good ways to recharge your tolerance. Read a book/magazine or listen to music. Going for a walk or doing some exercise can also get you away for a bit and allow you some space.
Do things with the people you feel most comfortable around
Going for a long walk with a favorite relative will help you to get away and spend time with the person you would most like to. Just make sure you let everyone else know where you are going. You don’t want a search party heading out over Christmas!
Talk to people, and if you feel overwhelmed, let people know
You don’t have to be involved in everything that’s going on. You need to pace yourself and choose the things you would like to do. Just politely say, “No thank you”. You have the right to say no sometimes. Don’t be too passive, help out sometimes. Although you need to look after yourself, there may be times when you just need to get involved with the preparations and interaction.
A big stress around holiday time can be buying presents
What are you going to buy for that friend that doesn’t seem to be into anything? Where are you going to get the money for everything you would like to buy?
Get organized earlier on next year
It might seem a bit simple, but planning out what you would like to buy and what you can afford, will avoid extra stress. Get some simple cheap presents, or make your own. Search the Internet for ways to make cool gifts. Remember: it’s the thought that counts.
If you can’t afford to get presents, but are worried people may get you something, talk to them
Decide to only spend a certain amount on one another. This can turn into a lot of fun, as you will both have to find some little funny gifts for one another.
Others are probably feeling the same pressures as you.
Try not to ask for too many things or presents that will break the budget. Your parents and friends will also be feeling the pinch at this time of year just like you do!
If you want to do something for others, try volunteering or organising a trip away
Doing something for others in need around this time is a great way to feel good about yourself and lend a hand. Organising a trip can be a cheap way to spend time and have fun. Most cities have free activities that anyone can enjoy. Search on line to find stuff in your city. Going on a trip is one way to avoid Uncle Ralph and have plenty of peace and quite as well as private time.
It is important to remember just because some things are supposed to be different around holiday time, it doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be different. Allow yourself to feel the way you do and do tell any friends and family if you feel stressed or anxious. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are not in the mood for the festivities. Talk to someone about how you feel and share what the holidays are really like for you. Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Program is ideal for those who feel stressed, tense, have sleeping problems and are tired. Check it out.