Christmas Stress

Handling stress at Christmas

The holiday season is rife with personal stressors, from the influx of triggers related to past losses, to the money woes of endless gift-giving, to the all-encompassing urge to make merry (ie. eat and drink excessively), to the great expectations that are seldom ever met. With all the outside forces pushing us to enjoy, it can be hard to get into festive spirit.

 

While December is considered the most stressful month of the year, we have to ask ourselves why? Is it just a fluke, or do we unconsciously make choices that add to our own stress?

 

A key to helping you balance it all Time-management and prioritisation.

Making a list of the top-three most important tasks of the day, the ones you really need to complete, is step one.

Step two: Focus on the kind of person you want to be that day. It could be patient, grounded, reflective, productive. No matter what the choice, be mindful of how you are feeling.

 

Whether you’re out holiday shopping or still winding down at work, those days leading up to Christmas will be busy and stressful. It is easy to fall into negative patterns when you’re overwhelmed. When you haven’t planned out your day, you’re much more likely go on auto-pilot, reacting to those around you in potentially negative ways. Sudden changes in plans may cause you to snap. Even shopping for gifts can become a cumbersome chore, so you grab whatever is easiest, paying no mind to cost or quality. The weight of the stress leads to reactionary decision-making.

 

Being conscious of your mindset and choosing who you want to be, regardless of circumstances, can help you make decisions in line with what you want.

 

Another important factor in holiday stress management? Creating boundaries! If you allow other people’s demands and expectations to take over your life, there is no way you will be feeling festive come Christmas Eve. It’s important to take time for yourself. Go for a walk, meditate, have a night in. Be honest with yourself and with others, to avoid resentment. You won’t be able to see everyone, go everywhere, and get everything done. Find your balance!

 

To reiterate a point made in my recent blog on dealing with work stress:

 

“It’s impossible to drive from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and back on £5 of diesel, so why do we think we can work all day without attending to basic needs of giving ourselves a break to refuel and recharge?”

 

Any time you feel overwhelmed this holiday, try this easy technique to get you back on track. Think SOS:

 

S – Stand Back: In your own mind, create space for yourself to pause.

O – Observe: Recognise, without judgement, what you are feeling, thinking, and how you are behaving. Are you running on autopilot, just reacting? Or are you really engaging and being present?

S – Steer: Steer in the direction you want. Don’t just make a snap decision, but really consider the results you want and make the choice to drive you focus in that direction.

Don’t just survive the holidays, stressed out and running on auto-pilot! Decide how you want to feel come Christmas Eve. Choose how your festive time will be spent. Remember, it’s yours as well as other people’s! By being mindful of your feelings and actions, you have the opportunity to direct your energy towards things that really matter to you.

 

Remember to slow down, step back, and SOS!

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