While many of us view the holiday season as a time to celebrate, because Christmas is so overwhelming, it can also quickly turn into a stressful time. It may be draining and stressful, involving everything from more money spent on Christmas shopping to constant social commitments and more time spent with family.
In a 2021 study of 2,000 people, almost one-third (35%) stated they frequently experience burnout—a word used to characterise being psychologically and physically worn out from a work environment—before Christmas. An additional 68% of respondents claimed to find the holiday season—which includes Hanukkah, Christmas, and Thanksgiving—to be stressful.
Many people find themselves under pressure at this time to socialise more than they want to and spend time with people they may have spent the whole year avoiding,” says Lorna Evans, a psychotherapist and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
Socialising, Financial Pressure And Family Time
We could experience stress during the holidays for a variety of reasons. It frequently entails spending a lot of time with family, which can cause stress, disputes, and disagreements.
During the holiday season, grieving may be a challenging experience for people who have lost friends or relatives. It may be very difficult to deal with the need to ‘keep up appearances’ when grieving over a loved one, especially when there is a sense of joy and celebration among all of us.
Christmas may be a difficult time financially, and many may have to work longer hours to pay for food and gifts. We frequently feel pressured to participate in a lot of social activities in order to please other people, even though we actually need to take some time to unwind and calm down. We can wind up sleeping less as a result, which could affect how we feel.
“‘No’ really is the hardest word to say, and if you tend to please others, you’re going to find it very stressful,” says Evans. “After the year we’ve all had, it is crucial to create healthy boundaries for ourselves, as this may be the first real chance we’ve had to take a break in a long time.”
Even the slightest alteration to our daily schedules during the holidays can occasionally affect how we feel. We might wind up staying up longer, eating more, drinking more, and consuming richer meals, all while engaging in less physical activity. These modifications to our way of life may impact our stress levels and mood.
How To Avoid Stress Over Christmas
Think About What You Want
“Take a deep breath and ask yourself what do you need from your Christmas break this year? What do your mind and body need to feel well?”
Once you’ve taken time to consider what you want from the holidays, it may be easier to avoid automatically saying yes to all event invitations that come your way. Think about how you feel and when it would be more beneficial to stay in.
“Notice when you feel you need to step away from stressful people and environments. There has never been a better time of year to go for a walk, even borrow a dog,” says Evans.
Take Note Of ‘Should’ Statements
“Notice if any ‘should’ messages come up, such as ‘I should do this’. These statements are often about other people’s needs and not our own, so it will be helpful to notice any sense of obligation you feel,” Evans advises.
“Setting boundaries with time and people is essential to protect your energy. And always have an exit plan, a reason to leave early.”
Define Your Boundaries Clearly
We frequently experience pressure to host Christmas because we have in the past. It’s crucial to express your feelings, though, if you don’t feel like hosting.
Setting limits on how long guests can remain, for example, can be helpful if you wind up preparing Christmas dinner for others. In order to reduce the amount of work you have to do, don’t be hesitant to ask guests to bring a dish or course, or to ask them to assist with cleaning up afterward.
Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol
Over Christmas and New Year’s, many of us drink extra, but this can seriously harm our mental and general wellbeing. It is advisable to spread out your drinking over three or more days if you frequently consume more than 14 units of alcohol per week, rather than exceeding that limit on a regular basis. Thirteen units is the same as ten small glasses of wine or six pints of moderately strong beer. Alcohol should be absolutely avoided while pregnant.
“Raise your awareness of the impact alcohol and food consumption is having on your mood and sleep. Alcohol is a depressant, so beginning to notice the impact will help you make healthier decisions to stay well,” says Evans.
When Necessary, Say No
“Slow things down and pause before saying yes to things. Don’t respond right away, but sleep on it and reflect if this is something you would like to do or feel under pressure to commit to,” says Evans.
“The ability to say no is similar to flexing a muscle, so start today and get practising. A helpful phrase to use is I’m unable to do that – as there is no need to explain why, yet it’s warmer than a straight no.”
Although it may seem self-serving, now is the perfect time to put your health and wellbeing first.
You don’t have to go through mourning on your own if you are having trouble grieving the loss of a loved one. You can get support and guidance from organizations like Cruse Bereavement Support.
If your mental health is a problem and it is affecting your life, it is also crucial that you talk to your doctor or please feel free to get in touch with us or contact Lynn Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org