Family life, Latest articles, Mental Health

Christmas stress and your mental health

The Christmas frenzy is officially in full swing and we are all hurtling towards December 25 looking forward to all the overindulgences it brings. 
For lots of people though this time of year can be really hard, often because it has a nasty habit of shining a huge Christmas light on difficult issues.
Grief, loss, troubled relationships and money issues can appear much worse at Christmas time and it doesn’t help that advertisements on television churn out the myth that we should all be having a ‘perfect’ Christmas.
Want a fab Christmas? You must have this 12 foot Norweigian pine and gigantic turkey and stacks of presents for the kids. The more you spend the better your Christmas will be is the promise.
Guess what though? It’s all a big lie. No one has a perfect Christmas.
Some people may have a nice day,  chances are there will be underlying issues like family tensions or stress. Others will be  grappling with chronic mental health issues such as anxiety and depression leaving them unable to cope. A lot of us will sit somewhere between the two. 
Christmas television adverts do nothing to help anyone struggling right now, neither does the constant conversation, from well-meaning friends, colleagues and neighbours around Christmas Day plans.
“Well quite frankly Brenda I’ll probably be having a really good cry at some point. You?”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m really looking forward to Christmas. I got married this year so it is our first as husband and wife.
We’ve got some fabulous things planned and I can’t wait to spend some time with my husband and son and see my wider family. 
There are still things that creep up on Christmas Day though. I always miss my late Mum much more than any other day of the year. My Dad will arrive at our house on Christmas morning after visiting her graveside like he has done for the past two decades.
Like many people operating in ‘blended families’ I don’t get to spend the whole day with my son and he will leave our house in the afternoon to go and see his Dad.
These issues, however, pale into insignificance compared to the many difficult things some of  my friends are facing right now. The loss of loved ones, ill health, relationship break-downs and financial hardships to name a few. 
And many other people don’t have a roof over their heads or any family at all, I know I am very lucky indeed. 
So if there are difficult things going on how do you keep your head above water this Christmas?
Maybe the key is to not put too much pressure or expectation on the day, focus on some self care and be kind to yourself; Mums of the world currently running around like headless chickens this is particularly applicable to you.
Take Christmas for what it is, a religious celebration for some or a chance to eat chocolate and drink Prosecco at 11am for others. Or better still both! 
Most importantly avoid turning the comparison game into an Olympic sport. That idealised version of Christmas you see on television adverts and you imagine Brenda is having really does not exist; no matter how big her tree is, how many presents are under it.  
Merry Christmas everyone.

7 thoughts on “Christmas stress and your mental health

  1. Well said! I’ve always found Christmas difficult for a variety of reasons, but mainly due to the expectations I put on myself. This year has been different though and I’ve had a lovely one with a lot less stress. All the best for 2019. Will follow along with your blog now after seeing you in ‘We Blog North’. xx

  2. How very true Rosie…..tears in my eyes as I type this. Hope your Christmas and New Year are filled with joy and happiness. Xxxx Sheila xxx

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