Tis the season to be ……..stressed?

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Last month
someone reminded me it was 39 days until Christmas – and I still let them live!!

Do you remember when you were a kid and you ticked off the days until Christmas, eagerly looking forward to opening your presents and stuffing yourself full of treats?? No school for the summer and just so many hot fabulous days to enjoy.

Why is Christmas as an adult just so stressful? Is it the unreasonable expectations or commercial pressures?

Downstairs in our building there is a tile shop where at the moment every single customer is trying to complete projects before Christmas. Our car park is crowded with constant deliveries as they try to meet everyone’s expectations. Really you didn’t get round to renovating the house until November and now it needs to be done before Christmas along with every other renovator in Sydney? Wait till February next year and enjoy purchasing what you need in the January sales!

Apart from the commercial pressure there is the difficulty of organising a large amount of catering for the meal that gets eaten on the one day that the shops are shut. This means that Woolies and Coles are insane for a few days before Christmas and a few days after. One way to deal with this is to buy all the non-perishables at least a week before which reduces the amount of shopping you have to do at that time and seriously consider ordering online for delivery on the 23rd December – it is doesn’t arrive you still have time to sort it out. If it does you just saved yourself 3 hours of dealing with the insane shopping and parking frenzy that precedes Christmas Day.

The major source of stress however exists where our relationships are already strained. For divorced couples this is often a very difficult time with deciding who gets the kids for Christmas? For families with difficult relationships or difficult relatives Christmas can be more stressful. Will a boozy uncle drink too much and get aggressive? Will your mother-in-law criticise your child rearing through the whole meal? Many people for the sake of family harmony put up with crap at Christmas that they wouldn’t tolerate the rest of the year. Perhaps its worth considering raising the issue before the day or having an agreed signal with your partner that means he changes the subject as soon as someone starts. If its really difficult consider having Christmas lunch at an external venue which reduces the amount of time you have to spend with the difficult family members.

Other options for reducing stress at Christmas could include an appropriate family game which everyone enjoys – scrabble, monopoly and cranium are often fun and easily fill a couple of hours if you can’t all escape to a pool or the beach. This is also a good way to slow down excessive alcohol consumption or give someone who needs time out a chance to slip away for a nap!

If you find the thought of this season fills you with dread it might be time to talk to someone about it. Counsellors often get very busy this time of year.

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