Dealing with Christmas stress

Whether you look forward to Christmas every year or dread the very thought of Christmas, either way, there is stress involved. Christmas has become time-consuming and expensive and is rife with opportunities for misunderstandings.

When you consider all the Christmas parties you and/or your children are expected to attend, all the family gatherings and all the food you have to prepare, it is little wonder that stress comes with Christmas.

Some stress is good for the mind and body, but too much can cause physical illness. If you notice excess hair falling out, daily headaches, insomnia, muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, inability to tolerate minor nuisances, anxiety or sudden weight gain several weeks before Christmas, you probably suffer from Christmas stress.

Natural treatments for periodic stress include:

  • Understanding the cause of your stress by writing in a journal: Whenever you feel your muscles tensing up and your anxiety rising, make a note of your symptoms and what took place just prior to the symptoms. For instance, you receive a phone call form a sibling about whose house will be used for the family Christmas gathering and you feel a headache coming on, write, “Sue called, where to meet for Christmas, head began to ache.”
  • When you can see the pattern of cause and effect, you can begin to deal with the issues.
  • Drink chamomile or green tea to help calm your nerves. Use a small amount of honey to sweeten.
  • Ask your spouse, friend or relative to massage your neck and shoulders where tension usually settles.
  • Lie down for 20 to 30 minutes in a dark room with soft, soothing music playing.
  • Exercise: Do some stretches to keep muscles from becoming tense.

If Christmas events cause you great stress, you might want to make new traditions that will lessen the stress and bring back the joy you once had at Christmas. Too many activities, too little time, too little rest and sleep and too little money to spend on gifts equals a great deal of stress.

Always remember that you are in charge of your life. You decide what you are willing to do, with whom, where and when. You can’t please everyone no matter how much effort you put into trying. No one expects you to be perfect. If they do, the problem belongs to them, not you.

Have one Christmas gathering for each side of the family. Draw names for gifts or agree that all gifts will cost no more than five dollars and will be functional, usable gifts. Gifts can also be handmade, re-purposed or come from a thrift store.

Begin a new Christmas tradition of baking cookies with the entire family where each makes their favorite kind, then exchanges so that each person has a dozen of each kind. This can take the place of a formal gathering with the exchanging of gifts.

Don’t give in to emotional blackmail. No one can make you feel guilty unless you allow them. The more you know about your own expectations, the easier it will be to make a stand for your beliefs and your values.

Enjoy this Christmas and end the stress that robs you of your joy.