Anxiety and stress over christmas

By Kerry-Ann Mapperson

Santa knows if you’re naughty or nice, but not if you’re sad or stressed.

As this overburdened year comes to a close and the ‘festive season’ approaches, this period can be difficult to navigate at the best of times, and it certainly hasn’t been the best of times.

Although it’s supposed to be a time of joy, Christmas can be a stressful and sad time for many and it is common for people to feel negative over this period. What do you do with these unwanted emotions?

While some are welcoming the opportunity to travel and gather with family and friends, many are still unable to do so as a result of travel restrictions.

Going over the same thoughts repeatedly only ads to feelings of loneliness and sadness.

For some people, reaching out and talking to others about your feelings of loneliness, can provide an immediate boost to your mood.  

Remember loneliness is a feeling, but isolation is a choice.

But for many, these negative feelings have been building throughout the year, and will only be exacerbated by pressure to have ‘the perfect Christmas’ with presents, family and food. And reality is – there is no ‘perfect Christmas’.

The separation from loved ones is also an opportunity to connect more often or more deeply through technology. Maybe reframing your sad thoughts because of distance, to thinking how you get to connect with loved ones more often due to zoom, facetime and phonecalls.

Or maybe you can start putting thoughts into recreating the get together, planning how you can celebrate together at a time that doesn’t have to fit on the calendar set in stone.

Consider planning some of the scheduled technological get togethers into planned fun events – like playing games, eating the same meal, or simultaneously watching holiday movies.  Doing things like this can help maintain the sense of connection that comes with Summer, despite the physical distance.

It is not only those separated from loved ones that feel sad and negative feelings.  For those who are able to gather with family and friends for the holidays – their excitement might still be mixed with stress and worry.

Many face financial tension at the moment.

The pressure of giving gifts is likely to exacerbate the negative effect of financial stress. Consider seeing this as an opportunity to make gifts – like propagating plant cuttings, baking or painting – can help people cope with this challenge.

Having spent such a prolonged period of time in a heightened state of alert, it’s natural to feel on edge when travelling this Christmas.

Discomfort, anxiety, and uncertainty will bring thoughts like “Why aren’t people wearing masks? Can we hug in public? Why are people so close together? And where is the hand sanitiser?!”

Recognising and accepting your emotions is an effective coping mechanism, especially in 2021. Let others know how you feel, might just be the best gift we can give one another this Christmas.

Even though it might be tough, Christmas can be a good time to be grateful for people or things that you love in life.

Of course, if things are really challenging, reach out to your GP, mental health professionals or after-hours services such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline.

Contact Hope Chapel and let us know how we can pray for you.  Or maybe you can arrange a time when you can come and sit in church, spending time meditating, praying or soaking in the gentle music 02 96213964 [email protected]

If you can’t feel glad at the moment, try looking to the future with hope that things will improve. There is always hope.

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