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10 most common Christmas stressors

Christmas is many things to many people. For some, it’s about family time, others good food and drink, for some it’s the gifts or traditions, the tree, or simply the children’s excitement. Whatever the best (or worst) bits of Christmas are for you, it is invariably stressful in the run up to Christmas and often over the season itself.

For some, it’s apparent that Christmas actually raises issues that might be there all year round. So perhaps now is the time to address some of these issues.

For some, it’s apparent that Christmas actually raises issues that might be there all year round. So perhaps now is the time to address some of these issues.

Here are the 10 most common Christmas stressors – and what you could do to address them.

1. Family time vs me time

Whether you’re a close family or not when Christmas comes you feel obliged to spend an entire week with them! Many people dread Christmas because of having to spend lots of time with their family.

This year, do yourself, and your family, a favour and tell them that you plan to restrict your time with them as you feel like having some ‘me time’. Set your boundaries, before you hit the Christmas season.

If you really CAN’T avoid spending a lot of time with the family, make sure that you pencil in ‘me breaks’ – perhaps a bath, a walk alone, reading or a drive.

2. Spending on your loved ones

You look at all of the presents as you sit wrapping them and suddenly you realise this person has less that someone else. You panic and, before you know it, you’re shopping again.

Many of us spend way too much at Christmas, more than we can afford, and a lot of it on credit cards. Set a budget. Give what you can afford, and it’s quite acceptable these days to let people know that you’re only going to spend so much – the chances are they’re worrying about the same thing you are.

3. Keeping up with the Jones’

Next door has a tree bigger than yours! Ouch! These days, everything is shown off on social media, including the size of your Christmas tree. You have one of two choices if this is worrying you: buy a really big tree and throw lots of bling on it; OR take a stand on things by not buying into the consumerism.

4.Where is the love? Christmas loneliness.

Many people find themselves single at Christmas, and if this has ever happened to you, have you noticed, that maybe you were perfectly fine being single in March. But when it comes to December, you start to notice people as ‘couples’ and start to wonder why you are single.

When you find your mind wandering to ‘but really, should I be single?’ tell yourself that for every single person out there, there is someone in a relationship who feels equally lonely. Learn how to enjoy your own company.

5. ‘Tis the season to be jolly…

There’s always that one story, where someone did something they shouldn’t have at the office party. It’s too easily done when too much alcohol is flowing. If you find yourself worrying about what you might do, make a promise to yourself not to drink too much.

Indeed, Christmas in general can be a time when drinking issues are highlighted. One too many glasses at the dinner table has led to many a family argument.

If you find curbing your drinking is a problem, maybe now is the time to seek help. Christmas is a time for fun and celebrations yes, but it can also highlight a possible drink problem.

6. Giving and receiving

You didn’t plan on sending a card to your neighbour but they’ve sent one to you… You didn’t even consider buying a present for your work colleague, but she says ‘wait until you see what I’ve bought for you’.

Again, this can impact on your budget. How can you budget when you don’t know who to buy for? Well – plan who you WANT to buy for, and then tell everyone else, that you’re not buying many presents, and plan to donate to charity. It’s less awkward if you’re clear about things.

7. Who ate all the Christmas pies?

Part of our brain tells us that we should treat ourselves at Christmas, often meaning unnecessary overindulgence.

One way to tackle this is to plan your menu BEFORE Christmas, and allow yourself a certain number of treats per day. Then, stick to that. Are you really saying that you have no self-control? If that’s the case, maybe you need to look at whether you have an issues with food.

8. What am I doing with my life again?

There’s something about the festive season, particularly New Year, that encourages us to sit back and take stock of things. What exactly am I doing with my life? Seeing friends and family can really trigger this, as they ask ‘what have you been up to? What are you doing now?’

This year, have a look at your life and assess things before arriving at Christmas. You know that this conversation is coming – so turn up to family gatherings this year with your answer ready.

9. How will I survive in January?

Having spent way more than is realistic, when January arrives we have no idea how we’ll manage things when it comes to money. If this is a worry for you, then follow some of the steps above: Cut back on gift spending, plan your menu, reduce your food and alcohol bill, and refuse to keep up with the Jones’.

If you have a problem with curbing spending then maybe you need to get help to address that. Often understanding the root-cause can solve the issue quite quickly.

10. I can’t face all of those people.

If you are shy, or struggle with something such as social anxiety disorder, then having to see many people at Christmas can be a challenge. It can bring on a sense of panic, and a strong desire to ‘hide under the duvet’ for many people.

You are not alone if you suffer with social anxiety but why not make this year THE year that you refuse to be its victim and seek help to get this issue sorted. Like so many anxieties, there is plenty that can be done to help you overcome them.

It’s normal to stress about Christmas. But if the festive season highlights some issues for you; drinking problems, over-spending or over-eating to name a few; then consider seeing a therapist who specialises in tackling fear, stress and worry, and can instill a more confident mindset.

Christopher Paul Jones
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