BY: Janine Mitchell
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So Christmas is meant to be a special time. The time of year to spend time with family and loved ones, a time to be merry and be full of festive cheer. It’s also a time for reflection as we move into the new year.
However there is often so much pressure placed on us, whether it’s via the media or other channels to supposedly have this perfect time. In addition, there is a perceived need to have lots of additional expenditure during this season.
Christmas is not a fun time for all. It can be a time when certain feelings or past events can be triggered. It can be a time where undue pressure becomes too much. It can also be a time where memories come to the surface, which can make it a testing time for many.
In addition, the weeks leading up to Christmas are the most likely time of the year for relationships to end – clearly additional pressure is being placed on relationships at this time. It is understood that December 11th, shortly coming up, is the busiest day of the year for couples to split up. Data has shown that two weeks before Christmas Day is the day of the year when most couples decide to end their relationship.
The lead up to Christmas also has huge issues for many evoking incredibly high levels of stress and depression. Hospitals and police forces report high incidences of suicide and attempted suicide at this time of year. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression.
We live in an increasingly materialistic world, which is so glaringly obvious at Christmas. Whether or not you have religious beliefs, it can feel like the original intent has been lost.
The over excessive commercialisation of Christmas can evoke feelings of needing to focus on perfect gifts, presents and social activities. This can then lead to problems with money and can create issues around debt. This can also feel like a very excluding time for many.
For many, Christmas will be a trigger to engage in excessive self-reflection and rumination about inadequacies as compared to others, who outwardly appear to have more. In addition, many can feel alone and excluded, when this is supposed to be a time for family, get togethers and festive cheer. A sense of belonging can often be lost at Christmas time.
What can be done differently?
Here are some suggestions for what you can do at this time of year to help with the above. Lets ensure this does not happen to you, or someone you know –
- Check in on someone you care about
- Take the pressure off yourself – its only one day
- You don’t need material things to be happy
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Adverts and television aren’t real life – its a clever marketing campaign
- Be in gratitude and be happy for the little thing that you have in your life right now
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Lower your expectations as to what a ‘perfect’ Christmas should look like
- Take some time out for you wherever you can
- Remember – its only one day of the year! – There are plenty of others – 364 to be exact