Four questions you can ask yourself to uncover the real source of Christmas stress
Christmas can be a magical time but it’s also a source of stress for many people, for all sorts of different reasons. From extra financial pressures and family conflicts to increased loneliness and heightened grief. And this year, a pandemic!
People are telling me they are feeling even more pressure this year, with added worries about job security, lack of certainty about plans and mental health struggles. Many are having to make difficult decisions about who to see and whether it’s safe which is making them feel guilty and anxious.
I’ve been having these conversations with my own family. We came to the conclusion that it’s about taking personal responsibility for our decisions and actions. Each person will make up their own mind about how safe they feel, what level of risk they are willing to take, and what’s best for their physical and mental wellbeing. We promised not to push, judge, or allow our own beliefs and feelings about what we think is best to force someone into a decision that’s not right for them.
It made me think about how easy it is to take other people’s opinions and decisions personally and trigger our insecurities and fears about not being able to create what we imagined in our head. To see family, friends, the government or even the weather as saboteurs who just want to ruin Christmas for us! After all, don’t we deserve a bit of happiness after what we’ve been through this year?
The reality is that we can only control our own thoughts and feelings, our own actions and be honest enough to tell each other what we need.
So I decided the best gift I could give to you this year is an invitation. Sadly there is no party, but an invitation to look inward, to dig a bit deeper and uncover the real source of why Christmas can trigger you. To challenge you to see things from a different perspective because that gives you more choice, and more choice creates more possibilities.
What beliefs do I have about Christmas?
Your beliefs are a lens through which you view the world. They are part of your core operating system which runs silently in the background dictating everything you think, feel and do. How you respond to life’s challenges is largely dictated by your beliefs about yourself and how the world is.
These are often outdated and limiting and can cause immense stress when they can no longer be sustained. Beliefs around Christmas are formed though family traditions and experiences, cultural and religious backgrounds and social pressures.
To uncover yours, connect with how you’re thinking and feeling. What are you saying to yourself? What do you hear yourself saying to friends and family about arrangements over the Christmas period? How do you feel when you are offering your time, making plans, buying gifts?
Maybe you’re feeling even more pressure to deliver an extra special Christmas because the rest of this year has been hard work and perhaps you missed out on a holiday or couldn’t celebrate important milestones.
Perhaps Christmas is the only time of year you get to show people how much you care through gifts and food. Maybe it’s the few times you get to enjoy yourself and be shown appreciation from others.
Do you feel guilty because you think it’s your job to make everyone happy? To be the life and soul of special occasions? To be perfect? To pretend everything is fine to your kids when really it’s going to be a struggle financially?
Are you trying to hold on to traditions because they remind you of happy childho