Dr Mel: Christ­mas stress

Whether we en­joy it or dread it, the fes­tive sea­son can push us to our men­tal lim­its

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - HELLO! -

It’s sup­posed to be the most won­der­ful time of the year – but, for some of us, Christ­mas good­will can some­times seem hard to

find among the ex­tra work, cost, travel, over-in­dul­gence and need to please ev­ery­one.

Per­haps we hate the en­forced jol­lity; maybe we’ll be alone, wish­ing we had loved ones to share it with. We may be strug­gling with men­tal-health prob­lems or be­reave­ment – three-quar­ters of peo­ple in a re­cent sur­vey said they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced stress in the past year.

How stress af­fects us Whether we’re feel­ing un­der pres­sure our­selves or are aware oth­ers are, we need to get through it, but it’s use­ful to know the ef­fects of stress.

We may worry ex­ces­sively and strug­gle to con­cen­trate or sleep. Ex­tra adren­a­line may trig­ger heart pound­ing, shak­ing, sweat­ing, nau­sea and feel­ings that we can’t breathe or that we need to run away. Out­wardly, we may ap­pear over-talk­a­tive, with­drawn or ir­ri­ta­ble. We may try to com­pen­sate or re­lax by drink­ing too much al­co­hol, which can trig­ger out­bursts or ar­gu­ments. plan ahead

If find­ing the per­fect gifts is stress­ful or costs too much, con­sider sug­gest­ing cash or vouch­ers, buy­ing presents for chil­dren only, or a fam­ily Se­cret Santa – and do wrap a standby present, such as lux­ury bis­cuits, in case you re­ceive an un­ex­pected gift.

Get­ting to see ev­ery­one can be dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially for large or ‘blended’ fam­i­lies and those who have young chil­dren, work com­mit­ments or live far away. And spend­ing

more than a day with other peo­ple – even those you love to see – can still be stress­ful, so don’t over-com­mit or feel you’re spoil­ing the fun. Give peo­ple ad­vance no­tice if you can only man­age so much. Make it eas­ier for all Sug­gest shar­ing out the work, buy­ing ready-made food, tak­ing turns each year to host, get­ting to­gether on a sep­a­rate oc­ca­sion, or even hav­ing a ‘quiet Christ­mas’.

If some peo­ple don’t get on, ar­range sep­a­rate or shorter meet-ups, and plan ways to defuse ar­gu­ments.

Don’t run out of vi­tal med­i­ca­tion, and do prac­tise re­lax­ation or mind­ful­ness – and po­lite ex­cuses, in case they’re needed.

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