Coping with stress at Christmas

What does Christmas mean to you?

Some points to think about.

Are we being realistic or honest with ourselves, or each other? This is where the PRESSURE can build. Has Christmas got to be perfect? Has everyone got to be happy? Does money buy us everything we need? Have we created an impossible wish-list, and also worry how to afford it?

Think about managing the expectations we put on ourselves, other people's demands on us, and difficult relationships. So who is asking us for what? Who expects what? Why? Be very clear why you are doing things.

It can be good to spend time with family and making memories that people treasure can be the best present of all. However, having a plan to keep everyone talking and feeling involved can be a good thing. So, maybe find games to play such as Trivial Pursuit, Charades, have details of local walks, and agree limits to social media and electronic gaming as we demonstrate give and take. Perhaps getting out and about can help us and others - help a charity, host a community event, walk a dog at a rehoming centre or have an elderly neighbour round on Boxing Day.

Deciding who to spend Christmas with can be a difficult decision but really benefits from being made as early in the year as you can.

Be prepared to create your own rituals and new traditions and blend them with old ones if need be.

Ill feeling during the year that has simmered, can explode at Christmas, a flash-point for emotions. Alcohol can fuel the intensity of these emotions and cause irritability and low mood. If you or anyone else is struggling with alcohol abuse, be prepared to ask for and to get help.

Grief can re-emerge, feelings of loss for relationships and loved ones. Christmas can be a time of deep emotion and that includes sadness. Cherishing memories and creating a space, and place, for them in the meaning Christmas has for you, can help.

Share the chores. They make good memories. Kids baking, getting Granny involved, aunts and crafts, and a new family jam making tradition! Ask for help from family and friends and do the same for them, share skills.

Make a list and stick to it. Agree gift expenditure limits and be prepared to give your time as a gift that people will really appreciate. However don't let 'to do lists' overwhelm you. Create one big one, then pick a couple of things off it for that day or week, to get done, and put the big list away. This keeps your focus fresh, you can see what you are achieving and lets you be flexible.

People value being made to feel welcome, comfortable, cosy, loved, wanted and appreciated. This is how we show people we care. Its what we do already, at Christmas, and throughout the year.

Wishing you a season of peace and goodwill, best wishes,



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