• It does not help to carry negative energy into the holiday. Find ways to make it work
2020 is an exceptional year in many ways. As the year comes to a close, the festive season comes with its usual challenges, worsened by the impacts of a global pandemic on our lives, relationships and finances.
The festive season is associated with family reunions, laughter, fun, full bellies and plenty to drink. For some individuals, these societal expectations can be stressful. Worldwide, crime data shows an increase in assault, murder and suicides during the festive season. Psychologists say family conflicts, unfulfilled expectations, alcohol and drugs can tip emotionally vulnerable people over the edge.
Negative emotions can intensify during the festive season because of pre-existing stress factors, such as financial difficulties, shortage of time, loneliness, family tensions, marital disputes and bereavement. Furthermore, some people may feel they have not achieved their resolutions for the year. This adds to the stress. The emphasis on family, friends and shared good times during the festive season intensifies feelings of loneliness for those not close to their loved ones.
The key to having a joyous festive season starts with appreciating everyone is under stress to a certain degree. For example, one family member may be striving very hard for the perfect Christmas activities, while another may be struggling with the employer to get time off for the festive season. Someone else may be anxious because of financial stress. Everybody may be feeling exhausted after a stressful year. Then there are worries about the coming new year, reopening of schools and uncertainty over jobs.
Five tips for a stress-free festive season:
1. Start planning early
Christmas and New Year occur at exactly the same time each year. There is, therefore, no reason why someone should get caught unawares. If travelling, booking early saves money.
2. Avoid comparisons with neighbours and relatives
There will always be people who have more resources than you do. Others will have less than you do. Regardless of your finances, the best Christmas is that which families enjoy spending time with each other.
3. Fewer activities are more enjoyable
Less is more. Christmas should be a time for building relationships, but there is the temptation to pack very many activities into the festive season. Too many activities may create friction within the family. Fewer activities provide room for flexibility in case of unexpected developments.
4. Consider the housework
Men are guilty of not thinking about the strain of housework during the festive season. Receiving guests, cooking, housekeeping, doing laundry and watching over the children is a lot of work for one person. While planning activities for the festive season, it is worth having a family discussion so that everybody has fun without dreading the workload.
5. Less emphasis on the perfect Christmas
Nobody is perfect and, therefore, no family gathering is going to be perfect. Some people may not be very talkative or in the mood for intense activities. Bad weather and unavailability of transport could force a change in plans. Regardless of how it turns out, the spirit of love during the festive season should not be forgotten.