Christmas should be a time of festive cheer, love and laughter with treasured friends and family, but sadly, for some people, it can mark the start of an extremely stressful period. These worries tend to go far beyond whether they’ve cooked enough food, or if their presents will be well received. Money worries, family issues, relationship problems or even divorce, are common issues facing many families as we enter the festive season and could be the cause of a troublesome time for everyone, unless they are dealt with correctly.
Putting it off
Avoiding a difficult decision or conversation is extremely common in the run up to Christmas – it can help you temporarily avoid having to face a burning issue, but at what cost? Brookman International Family Lawyers recently conducted a survey of 1016 married people to understand their concerns running up to Christmas, revealing that 64% of people had put off a major decision because they felt it was ‘not the right time’. Furthermore, one third felt that the New Year was a good time to make a fresh start or important life decision, indicating that many would be putting off any major decisions until after Christmas. With decisions about jobs, ending relationships or asking for divorce being the most popular major decisions to withhold, it is clear that many could be holding onto worries and stress that is impacting their health and happiness while creating a hostile environment for all those involved.
Stressed to the limit
When something is playing on your mind, at any time, it can be highly stressful. But having the additional pressure of Christmas food shopping, gift shopping and organising endless visits to see friends and family, can really push you to breaking point. Avoiding a difficult decision or discussion also uses up valuable emotional energy and the entire combination can result in mental, emotional and physical symptoms.
The ripple effect
Not only does this situation affect you, it impacts the people around you too. Those closest to you will notice your change in attitude or behaviour and atmospheres may become tense and awkward. With many taking annual leave to spend with family over Christmas, the last thing anyone wants is to wish they were back at work! So what can be done to avoid a Christmas crisis? Here are four ways to make sure you stay calm and collected over the festive period.
Voice your worries. Your mind can often be your worst enemy, so bring in another perspective by talking to someone about your concerns. A best friend or sibling are good choices. Talk through the difficulties you are facing, what decision you want to make and the pros and cons of seeing that decision through. For example, can relationship issues be fixed before going so far as divorce? Talking to someone else can really help you rationalise your thoughts and saying them out loud can sometimes give you a completely different perspective on them. Make sure the person you confide in is someone you trust but who will also be honest with you. You don’t want them telling everyone about your concerns, particularly if you decide not to act upon them.
Talk to your partner. If your worries involve your partner in any way, be direct and honest with them. If you’re having doubts about your relationship, are worried about finances or find a social situation particularly stressful, kindly and calmly talk things through. It’s best to get things out in the open now, rather than blurt them out in a major argument on Christmas Day.
Think about you. This may sound like a selfish one, but your happiness is just as important as everyone else’s. If you’re not happy, then something needs to change. It is common for people to choose to put their family before their own needs, but ultimately, an unhappy parent or partner will make those closest to them unhappy too.
Let go. If you make a decision that is in your best interests, but will cause another person upset, you need to forgive yourself. You may be overcome with guilt for wanting a relationship to end or to file for divorce, especially in the lead up to Christmas. Sadly, things just sometimes don’t work out and it isn’t anybody’s fault. Make sure you are kind to yourself about the decision and approach it with compassion for the other parties involved. Most importantly, don’t allow anyone else to make you feel bad.
It is important to point out that making a decision doesn’t necessarily mean you need to commit to the end result or outcome. It may just be to seek further advice or to investigate an alternative scenario. Sometimes people place too much pressure on fast tracking to the final decision, when in reality, they just need to make small steps to help them progress to a place of clarity. This is reflected in the Brookman survey results, which revealed that 74% felt instant relief as soon as a decision had been made.
Making a decision that could result in major life changes is never easy, but for many, the worry and stress caused by constantly going over the dilemma in your mind tends to be far worse than the actual outcome. By speaking up and airing your concerns, you can help to avoid the dreaded Christmas Crisis and look forward to a calm, collected, stress-free festive period!