Saturday, 10 December 2011

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen- Reducing the Stress of the Season

"God rest ye merry, gentlemen
                      Let nothing ye dismay!"
                                                      Victorian Christmas Carol 

The Christmas countdown is nearly done. A few more sleeps and the holidays begin. For some the break will be a welcome change. For others it may be like leaping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Holiday breaks can sometimes be more stressful than the work place! It is not uncommon to hear relief in people's voices when they get back to work when they say that the stress of the holidays is finally behind them!

It need not be that way. The whole point of a break is to allow folks to relax and recharge, not run themselves ragged with a rush of holiday events and travel. Christmas can be a particularly stressful holiday.  With its continuous messaging of family togetherness and the need to give the perfect gift, Christmas can become a pressure cooker, magnifying personal and family issues to the boiling point. 

Signs of Christmas stress in both children and adults can include emotional outbursts, anxiety, anger, physical illness, withdrawal and depression. Despite the calls of carols wishing a merry Christmas to all and exhorting "Joy to the World", mental health workers consistently cite December as their busiest month. Christmas has the dubious honor of being both the most anticipated and most dreaded holiday on the calendar. A recent blog in "Psychology Today" reports nearly 50% of people polled about holiday stress, experienced a significant degree of Christmas anxiety.

So what's to be done? Moderation, organization and staying connected can be key to a happy holiday. Not doing anything to excess, maintaining a good balance of recreational, restorative, social and festive activities, and keeping one's expectations and commitments in check can reduce the holiday pressure. Planning ahead and being selective in maintaining regular routines, and doing things with people you like and trust will also help keep the holidays from becoming overwhelming. Sharing the good times is important, but keeping in touch with folks who care about you can be vital.

Being sensitive to stress, and finding our own ways to deal with it, can help to make the holidays the break we all hope for. Check out a list of ways to reduce Christmas anxiety at 65 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress. Better yet, develop your own set of sure fire stress busters. Whatever your holiday plans, here's wishing you a calm, restful and joyful holiday season so that after the break you can return to education matters healthy, happy and ready to take on the challenges of a new year.

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