Putting festivities back into the festive season

Christmas: image by DAVID GRAY/Newscom/RTR
You may not be able to beat the Christmas stress, but you can stop beating yourself up about it…

The word festive may very well be a misnomer. This time of the year, as an adult, it is easy to get caught up in the frenzied consumer hustle and bustle, rather than focus on what Christmas time should be – family time. It’s the time of the year when the kids take vacation, companies close and we are reminded of our heritage. Television families are clad in green and red garments, with impractical hats that make for hours of PG 13 cheer and laughter; sitting around tables and being thankful for everything – particularly the food.

So why do we find ourselves freaking out over every single detail of Christmas lunch? Sweating frantically when the doorbell rings and the turkey hasn’t even gone into the oven yet?

Expectations. The modern family is swamped with unrealistic and draining expectations. Women and men are bullied into being great hosts, while also juggling full time careers and kids. They also feel compelled to maintain the household, buy gifts for the kids (who would absolutely die if they didn’t get presents as good as their friends’) and in-laws who are there to judge just how much better Christmas would have been if they’d hosted it instead, even though they never offer.

The main concern over the holidays? Money.

So, how do you get your sanity back?

Rest is a good start.

Find a quiet moment during the duties and sit down. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the pace of the season, take a few days to yourself. Go outside; take a walk, or even a drive – depending on what relaxes you. Spend some time away from the kids. Or even better, send them away for a bit and have the place to yourself for a few hours. Use the time to read, sleep or just do something that will help you de-stress.

Remind yourself what Christmas is really about.

Christmas isn’t supposed to be about money. Modern society has made Christmas such a consumer driven “holiday” that when we approach the festive season, we start to immediately dread the presents that we have to buy for people we see three times a year.

Sit down with your family, and start the tradition of discussing what Christmas time really means to you. A great exercise is talking about things that you all are grateful for. Get the children into the habit from an early age. Remember, kids usually imitate their parents, and emulate our beliefs and traditions, even subconsciously. Teach them that Christmas isn’t only physical, but a mental and spiritual destination too.

Be honest about your finances.

These days, everyone seems to be in a bit of a financial bind. If you tell people that you cannot afford gifts this year, it is more than likely that they will understand, and probably be relieved. Giving a gift is giving an obligation. Most people prefer to be left out of that tradition these days.

But, if you feel that you do want to treat some people with something special, before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget.

Studies also show that for a lot of people, this time signifies loneliness. And some even fall into annual depression. Suicide rates sky-rocket, and instead of feeling truly relaxed, everyone only cares to be the image of serene, and burn themselves out in the process.

Feeling depressed? Get help, immediately.

The Mayo Clinic says, that even despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling ‘persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores.’ If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Sometimes Christmas can bring strong emotions about someone we have lost, or things we missed as children. It is a great time to reflect on happy moments from easier times, before adulthood plagued us with piles of responsibilities.

Remember that it is okay to feel sad, and that there is no shame in getting a hand in combating feelings of depression. It will be better for you and your loved ones if you are the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.

So, this festive season, laugh, love and live every moment to the ultimate fullest. And remember, the season isn’t about how much money you earn, and it definitely isn’t about how much you can spend. It’s about family, friends, and remembering why we work so hard each year… for our well-deserved break to spend time with the people we care most about.

It’s about being festive.

Have a great holiday and a stress-free festive season.

Merry Christmas!

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