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Coping with Christmas stress

By Kaelanne Jordan
Twitter: @kaelanne1

For some, Andy Williams’ 1963 holiday hit ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ rings true during the Christmas season.

On the other hand, the supposedly “…hap-happiest season of all…” can bring about spells of sadness, stress and even depression, according to the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission’s (AFLC) mental health clinician, Crystal Johnson.

Johnson observed that women who typically tend to carry “a greater burden” in preparing for the holidays—planning, cooking, shopping—face greater risk for depression.

However, men too, she highlighted are “just as vulnerable” for depression and abusing “unhealthy vices” especially if they experience loneliness, stress, specifically of the financial sort, loss of job and not being able to spend the holidays with their spouse/family.

During the Topic Thursdays session November 14, Johnson shared some factors that contribute to the holiday blues. She also gave viewers some suggestions on ‘Coping during the holidays.’

In everything that you do, always remember the TRUE reason for the season.

Visit the AFLC’s Facebook page

@familylifecommission for Topic Thursdays. Topics can be suggested via the comments section.

Holiday depression triggers

Finances: For most, finances are integral to Christmas. Johnson spoke on the pressures and “fears” of not having enough money to buy gifts and the traditional holiday groceries can seem overwhelming for others.

Loneliness: Christmas is associated with a time of togetherness and family. And for those who do not get to experience this togetherness for whatever reason, the season can be difficult and even painful to celebrate.

Loss and grief: Missing a deceased loved one can contribute to your season feeling a little “less filled”, especially when that person “represented the season to you”. As such, this can put a “damper on the holidays,” Johnson said. Another aspect of loss involves loss of job right before Christmas or persons fearful of losing their jobs during the season.

Estrangement: Not all family gatherings are amicable. For others, family gatherings can be a source of sadness, guilt, resentment, conflict and even discomfort.

Divorce: If you’re newly divorced, the holidays may remind you of happier times and even “accentuate” grief for the children involved.

People pleaser: The demands of trying to divide your time and effort to spending the season with the entire family can seem challenging. It may also be unrealistic.

Ways to cope

Make plans: Johnson advises that early planning as best as possible can avoid tension and disappointment with your relatives. Try to see how best you can divide your time, efficiently.

Shop early: To avoid the Christmas rush, Johnson recommends persons begin gift shopping as early as July–September. Shopping online for deals is another option.

Ask for help: Johnson observed that a lot of persons do not like to ask for help. “But we need it. Let go of the control,” she encouraged. Johnson suggests asking family and friends to help paint. Children can even assist with simple tasks such as folding pastelles.

Stick to a budget: Do not buy expensive items that you genuinely cannot afford. While Christmas is associated with gift-giving, small tokens from the heart including baked goodies and quality time are invaluable gifts.