Even though Christmas Day it is still over a month away, the anticipation and lead up to it can cause stress and anxiety. Depending on the amount of stress and anxiety the though of Christmas Day causes, it may be taking up quite a bit of your time and energy now.*
There are three main steps to reducing stress on Christmas Day.
The first step is to zoom in and identify exactly what is stressing you.
Throwing your hands up and saying I hate Christmas, it's all too hard isn't actually that helpful. What exactly is causing the stress. Let's have a closer look at this.
There can be complex reasons why this is not a great time for people. There are six listed below. How many stresses on the following list can you identify with? What else not on the list i cuasing you stress.
1. Finalising the hosting arrangements. Where to be, who is hosting it? Delegation of tasks. Who is bringing the pudding? Who is attending? In some families this is fairly stable, in other families it swaps and changes every year.
2. Working out the logistics of travel. Are you at one place for the day, or does your Christmas Day involve driving? Do you have enough time to digest before going from one Christmas meal to the next?
3. Loss. How can you honour someone who is no longer with you? How do you deal with grief, your own and others around you?
4.Recent separation/divorce. Confirming shared care arrangements, or dealing with the reasons why the other parent may not want to/can't see the children over Christmas. Managing your feelings and those of children involved..
5. Dislike of family members either due to resurfacing of old sibling rivalry, history of trauma (often secret), or a clash of values and lifestyles.
6. Troubling memories of previous Christmas. In our mind events that happened years ago feel like they just happened. You may or may not be aware that your mind is remembering these events. You may just notice that you don't really like Christmas.
And there are more stresses.
The next two steps are problem solving and acceptance.
To create calm there are two main options available. You can problem solve or you can put up with it..
First though, comes awareness.
Have a closer look at your areas of stress and think about - do I want to solve this problem to reduce my stress, or will I need to accept it.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Ross is a Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Essential Self-Care for Psychologists.