Stress at Christmas is, for many, an inevitable result of too many demands from others as well as yourself. The end of the year naturally marks a time for holiday and reflection but all too often, it becomes overwhelming with increased social time, overeating and drinking, lack of sleep and spending long periods of time with extended family members. Even in one’s immediate family, the demands of spending a lot of time together with expectations of having a good time, can be too much and arguments and unhappiness can occur.
It is important to remember that you have more choice than you realise around Christmas and other social traditions. Take some time to reflect on what is important to you and speak directly to your partner and family to negotiate expectations. Modern living places extraordinary demands of people – although we often fail to see that we have a huge part to play in how we set up our lives – so Christmas should be a holiday rather another project to manage.
If you feel overwhelmed this Christmas, remember to take some time out alone – if only in another room or by taking the dog for a walk – and see yourself as the author of your own life. Be assertive with people whilst remembering that Christmas can be enjoyed and disappointments often only arise out of unrealistic expectations, adhering to social and cultural myths of what should be happening and a reminder that you are not living your life as you would want. Ensure you put in place the means to make the changes in 2011 so every day is more like Christmas – not just a ‘one time of the year’ event!