Ahhh Christmas, a most beautiful but also stressful time of year.
Did you know studies have shown it is in fact the most stressful time of year?
Why? Well for all the joys of gift receiving and seeing loved ones….the festive season also comes with its own burdens. Here are some unusual reasons why Christmas might stress us out.
We often feel that we should be happy
If only it were that simple! Just because its Christmas doesn’t mean we automatically feel happy, and feeling that we should be feeling other than how we are actually feeling, is a recipe for feeling even worse. Not only do many of us have negative associations with this time of year; maybe we lost a loved one or went through a breakup…but even if you haven’t, our happiness switches don’t get turned on with a flick of a magical ‘its Christmas’ button. The pressure of feeling as though you should have a big festive smile on at all times is often a cause of stress.
The urge to reflect
At this time of year the days are at their shortest. During this period, especially as we get closer to the end of the year it is natural to become more internal and introspective. It is a time to reflect on the year that has been and the one that is to come. This brings its’ own pressures. As healthy as it is to look within and reflect on the things that matter to us deeply, it can be quite challenging. Often we have to face looking at the things we could have done better, or the places where we didn’t meet our own expectations, and that can bring up some uncomfortable feelings.
As human beings we too have our seasons, we can’t be in summer all the time. Winter comes and it is healthy for us to plumb our depths and plant seeds for the months to come. But…unfortunately we don’t live in a society where these things are encouraged. It is so easy to feel like the odd-one-out, or feel as though there is something wrong with you.
Socializing can be draining
Socializing can be great fun, but sometimes its not. When you are already dealing with a lot of stress and your nervous system is near its limit, socializing can be particularly draining. Late nights, alcohol, and lots of talking can easily push you over the edge when you are already burnt out.
Work pressures amplified
Whilst in theory the Christmas period should be about taking time off and enjoying the festive season, in practice that is usually not how it goes. Taking time off can in itself be stressful as we have to fit in our workload in shorter time, especially if you are an entrepreneur. There is also the stress of closing off the year and in meeting deadlines or fulfilling Christmas orders.
Add onto that the financial pressure pressures that many people face, also get amplified by the gift giving season, especially if you have kids wanting gifts you cannot afford.
But wait there is good news!
The good news is that you don’t have to be happy around Christmas. And if sometimes socializing doesn’t seem fun…that is totally ok! If we are under financial pressure and need to make choices that go against the grain…there is peace to be found in that too.
One of the cornerstones of well-being is developing the strength to not be swept away by the tide of what society says we ‘should’ do…but learn to listen to ourselves, honour our needs and take an alternate path.
It doesn’t mean we should reject Christmas, or judge others for enjoying a different Christmas balance. It simply means we need to be ourselves.