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A Very Stressful Christmas

Despite the stress, Christmas is still a great celebration for most. For some however there is the hidden stress of Christmas which can be a dark and lonely time.
For most children there is nothing like the joy of Christmas. Presents under the tree, lots of food, lots of fun and a long holiday from school. What could be better. As we travel through life however, the joys of Christmas can give way to the demands of Christmas as we struggle to finish the year, organize Christmas celebrations, battle the crowds and chase the illusive parking space at the shopping centre.

Despite the stress, Christmas is still a great celebration for most. For some however there is the hidden stress of Christmas which can be a dark and lonely time. When we experience the death of someone close to us, Christmas can be a time of feeling that loss most acutely. This is particularly true if it is the first Christmas after the death but is often true in subsequent years. There is nothing more confronting than an empty space at the Christmas table and nothing more difficult than putting on a happy face in the midst of pain.

For those who are alone, homeless or living away from family and friends, Christmas can be a time of feeling the loneliness most intensely. The memory of past Christmases, the sadness of how life has unfolded and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can be a cocktail of sadness. Similarly, people suffering from various forms of depression can find Christmas hard to deal with.

Another Christmas stress faced by many people is having to deal with family and relations who we spend the rest of the year successfully avoiding. Family Gatherings, often with too much alcohol involved, can provoke a lot of dread and anxiety in the lead up top Christmas as well as stress and unavoidable conflict on the day.

As we celebrate the joy of Christmas it?s important to be aware that it may be a hard time for some of those close to us. It doesn?t help to try to force people to be jolly and put on a happy face. Often we can?t take away their pain, but we can however be unconditionally loving, accepting and supportive in the true spirit of Christmas.

Mitchell Brown is a Psychologist at Alpha Counselling Services Five Dock & Eastwood
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