How are you feeling about Christmas? Will all be Merry and Bright? Or are you stressing already in anticipation of a Less-Than-Happy- Christmas?
Too much to do?
Sometimes in the lead-up to Christmas we feel there is far too much to do and fit in. Maybe you can’t really afford it this year, you have so much to finish at work, there is one too many events to go to, and you just can’t think what to buy for that family member who has everything. Or perhaps you have too many relatives coming, or a very difficult uncle. Alternatively, maybe you’ll be all alone, lonely and sad.
But it can also be stress pressures on the day itself that tip you over the edge. I remember one Christmas only a year or two after I was married. We were spending Christmas Day with my in-laws. The males of the family had gone for their traditional after-church pre-lunch visit to the pub, while us girls laid the table and chatted. I distinctly remember around 1pm in a hot sticky kitchen (England in the middle of winter) when my dear mother-in-law burst into tears with all the stress of preparing a full roast lunch – “It just won’t be cooked on time !”
One definition of stress is great worry caused by a difficult situation (Cambridge Dictionary).
Alternatively, psychologists define stress as the psychological perception of pressure, and the body’s response to it (Psychology Today).
The Top 5 Stresses (OK, the top 8!)
A survey by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health found that 76% of people reported Family Arguments negatively affect their mental wellbeing at Christmas. On the other hand, 86% said that spending time with family was the best part of Christmas. Here’s the survey list. What does yours look like?
#1 Family Arguments #2 Getting Sick #3 Hangovers #4 Working Christmas Day #5 Crowds
#6 Spending More Money #7 Driving Long Distances #8 Pressure for “The Perfect Christmas”
Interestingly, the survey found that what ranks top for feeling good at Christmas is having time off work. So if you want to do something good for your health, make sure you take off the time that you are entitled to. When you leave the company or retire, no-one will thank you for the all the holiday you never took. But your family and friends may remember. And make no mistake, your children definitely will!
What can you do?
After time off work, the next things that the survey found make people feel good are time with family, time with friends, giving and receiving presents. All things which mean you are connecting with others. Other feel-good things are those which represent ritual – Christmas food, decorations, lights and trimming the tree. As well as donating to charity.
If you are feeling stressed right now, there are various things you can do to calm down, or even change your perspective:
a) Accept the situation, and just change the things you can change. Accepting, or releasing your resistance, can change how you feel, and change the whole situation.
b) Give thanks. If you haven’t yet tried saying Thank You for difficult things, then give it a try. Focusing on thanks involves different body chemicals than negative emotions. So for example, when faced with a difficult relative – perhaps Uncle Fred who is always grumpy – in your head say “Thank you for Uncle Fred. I love you Uncle Fred”. You could even say this over and over to yourself every time he says or does something annoying! As the ancients said “Love Your Enemy” – they knew that this was a healthier response than frustration or hate of something you can’t change!
c) Focus on gratitude. This is perhaps a bit overdone these days – is everyone telling you to write a Gratitude Journal? Well, this is definitely another thing which you could try to change your perspective and reduce the negative chemicals circulating in your body. Look even for the little things that you can’t argue with, such as “I’m so grateful for this blue sky”, “I’m really grateful for the colour of this flower”, “I’m so pleased to see this bird”, “I’m grateful that I have food to eat right now”, “I”m grateful I live in a peaceful nation”.
d) And breathe… of course the Deep Breath is the other stress-reliever we all know about. But do we DO it? or DO it often enough. Not just normal breathing but a lovely deep lung-filling breath? Try 20 deep breaths and then see how you feel. It automatically directs your body to calm down.
And what about EFT Tapping Acupressure?
And of course I’m going to recommend you use EFT Tapping acupressure – the self-applied stress relief that I use with my clients. In this, we actually acknowledge and face all the things that are worrying us. We rate how intense our negative feelings are about them. Then we use the tapping acupressure while we work through each worry until it dissolves away. Usually after this, your thoughts will change and become more positive naturally. You don’t need willpower. Research shows that tapping on the particular acupoints (or “energy crossroads”) in the body signals your brain and nervous system to calm down as you are thinking about the stress. Often people feel much calmer and “lighter” after this.
If you would like to try this, then you might like to join me at my Christmas Stress-Release Workshop on 24 November in Mitcham, South Australia. To find out more about it, click to my Workshops page here. Alternatively, contact me for a private session.