“Next to a circus there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit!” – Frank McKinney Hubbard.
Christmas can be a very stressful time of year – so much planning and organising, living up to expectations, spending time with that Uncle you hate, making sure everything is perfect…There are lots of things you can do to prevent the Christmas stress from getting to you.
Some top tips are:
Give up unrealistic Internal Demands: Too many people at Christmas think “Everyone must have a good time” or “I must organise things perfectly”. Therapist Yvonne Wildi says that “Magazines, shops and television programmes create an almost impossible to achieve level of perfection which often bears little in relation to reality but many of us still feel driven to try and achieve the fantasy.” To set yourself such idealistic targets is surely going to add to your stress greatly. It’s much better to think of things in a more flexible way. You’re not responsible for other people’s enjoyment – they are. Stop hoping to reach the impossible levels of expectation, as it’s not going to happen.
Try not to Pressurise yourself: This is closely related to the internal demands, but on a more basic level. If you don’t reach your targets, never mind. Try again tomorrow.
Stop Catastrophising: Something might go wrong and you think “This is awful! It’s the end of the world!” but really just sit back, relax and try to look at the situation. Be rational about the problem. Is it really “awful” or is it just an annoying hassle? Looking at things rationally will help you deal with things better and find a solution for these (often trivial) problems.
Look after Yourself: With everything going on, we might forget to eat or drink or take some time out. Make sure you eat well and healthily, drink enough fluid, and have time to relax. Meeting these criteria will keep your body at a normal level and help you concentrate better on the tasks ahead.
When dealing with Teens: At Christmas some parents act in certain ways or say certain things that push their teenagers back into “Child mode”. Try to remember that they are young adults now, and will not want to do the same things as they used to. By treating them with respect and talking to them in a mature way, you can ensure that any conflicts or “Stop babying me!” situations will be avoided.
Dealing with Loss or Grief at Christmas: Christmas can be a dark and lonely place for those who are suffering loss. It will draw your attention to those who “Should be there but aren’t” and often make you feel sad and even guilty for continuing without them. The glaring happiness others feel can sometimes have a negative effect, but just try to remember that although loved ones are gone, loved ones still remain. Try to enjoy your time with your friends and family as much as possible, whilst fondly thinking of those who are no longer with you. It’s okay to feel sad at Christmas.
Remember not to forget the main point of Christmas and allow any stress diminish from the pleasure of enjoying time with family and friends. As Calvin Coolidge says: "Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."