Christmas is a time of peace and joy, but for anyone feeling the pressure of a seemingly endless to-do list of shopping, cooking and entertaining, the holiday season can be more stressful than peaceful and joyful. Here, the health experts at YourGP address 12 potentially triggering stresses of Christmas, they reveal the tell-tale signs of stress to look out for, and advise what to do if the festivities all feel a bit too much to handle.
12 key pressures of the festive season
- Money worries: Christmas presents, party season outfits, turkey and all the trimmings… it all adds up. For many people, the expense of Christmas can push them into debt.
- Family tension: With relatives from near and far brought together at Christmas, tensions can run high, especially if politics and religion are discussed at the dinner table! Relationships can be tested to their limit around this time, which is why the number of people filing for divorce in January is often so high.
- Inability to switch off from work: The build up to Christmas can be a particularly busy time for many businesses, and some workers may find it difficult to resist checking emails during the holidays. They may also feel anxious about the workload they will be returning to in the New Year.
- Pressure to make it a perfect day for everyone: Many may feel a need to make sure their Christmas is picture perfect, especially if comparing to others on social media.
- Temptation to overindulge: Christmas is the season to treat yourself, but it can be a particularly difficult time for those who suffer with disordered eating.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Many of us will raise a glass or two to toast the festive season but some may find they end up drinking more than they intended.
- Inadequate sleep from partying: Christmas nights out can soon take their toll, and a lack of sleep can often exacerbate problems and heighten feelings of stress.
- Colds and flu affecting your health: Colds and flu are in full circulation at this time of year and can lead to you feeling run down.
- Difficult memories: Christmas is a time of nostalgia, traditions and memories, so it can be hard for those who have painful memories of the past or who are grieving those no longer with us.
- SAD: The short days and dark nights can affect some people’s mental health, with Seasonal Affective Disorder an issue for many around Christmas time.
- Exhaustion from overdoing it: Some may say there are not enough hours in the day and may find themselves exhausted from trying to do their usual daily chores and errands plus all the extra festive tasks such as Christmas shopping, card writing, and present wrapping.
- Lack of usual routine: Whilst some people may enjoy a break from their daily routine during the festive holiday, for some people this lack of a schedule can be detrimental to their health.
How to recognise the signs of stress
Everyone is different and stress can manifest itself in many different ways, including:
- Emotional outbursts
- Poor sleep
- Poor concentration
- Racing thoughts
- Lack of motivation
- Becoming withdrawn
- Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains
Why it is important to address stress
We all get stressed from time to time, but prolonged stress can have a detrimental effect on your health. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive system, affect menstrual patterns, lead to depression, and increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Feeling stressed? It’s time to talk
The best way to deal with stress, at Christmas or at any time of year, is to speak to someone. Confide in someone you trust – a friend or relative – and speak openly about how you’re feeling. If possible, delegate tasks to others so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.
If your feelings of stress are too much, speak to YourGP. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0131 225 5656. We are open six days a week, with short-notice appointments available so we can listen, understand, treat and support you this Christmas.