I’ve just realised that Christmas is just around the corner. This was prompted by my brother calling to check which day we’d arranged to get together before the new year. Only two weeks away! My time clock seems to have stuck somewhere in mid October!
Traditionally Christmas brings promises of peace, hope, and joy. However for many this is a far cry from the reality they experience of busyness, stress, unmet expectation, disappointment and loneliness.
A range of factors contribute to making Christmas a busy and potentially very stressful time of year. These include pressures of shopping, time, financial concerns and social demands, as well as fatigue, general overindulgence and lack of physical exercise. And statistics show that January is the busiest month for divorce lawyers. No wonder people call this the ‘silly season’.
This year, I have decided to actively recognise the reality of the festive season by focussing on care – both for myself and for others.
Looking after yourself is important. In the midst of all the busyness, remember to look after yourself. It is ok to say no and to ask for help if you need it.
We can all care for others in small ways, like remembering to make a call to a relative on Christmas day, or the bigger gestures, like helping out the homeless charity over Christmas.
So, when your cousin, yet again and over a third pint of beer, starts telling you again about the stress of possible redundancy and his aches and pains, instead of finding an excuse to leave and wander over to the buffet for a second helping, maybe this year you could give him the gift of your time and just take time out to listen to him exorcising his woes.
The ‘silly season’ doesn’t need to get difficult. If we look after ourselves and others, maybe collectively we can realise the Christmas promise of peace, hope and joy.
Here’s some some tips on how to avoid getting overly stressed at Christmas
- Plan ahead to minimise the pressure – not just the shopping, finances and cooking, but the stress as well. This means recognising that you may get stressed and talking it over with those closest to you.
- Try not to take things too seriously. Keep things simple; practical relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, is one way to tackle stress.
- Try to take time out for yourself, and don’t try to do everything on your own
- Don’t expect too much of yourself or others.
- Try to See the funny side of things and people’s positive intent.
- If all else fails, try to smile through gritted teeth! Have a great Christmas.