By Bridget Edwards, Stress Expert and Author of Stress Gone! How to Identify and Reduce Stress Easily.
December holidays and the festive season is supposed to be a joyous occasion and time for celebration, but in reality this has become an overrated commercial racket, complete with extravagance and over-indulgence. Typically prices sky-rocket and stocks are limited. People fret over what gifts to buy. Budgets are limited, yet people overspend and get into debt. Crowds, queues and traffic bottlenecks become the norm. Resorts are overcrowded. As people overindulge, diets fly out the window. Naturally emotions spiral uncontrollably. Frustrations, guilt, regret, remorse and stress levels soar.
December is so often bitter sweet. Come year end, most of us are only too happy to have some reprieve from the daily grind because we’re exhausted, frayed at the edges and in desperate need of a holiday. But for others this is a time of great disappointment, loneliness, grief and sadness as loved ones may have passed away during the year, and this is their first holiday alone. Perhaps they’ve recently divorced, separated, or the children have grown up, left home or gone away with friends on holiday. Maybe that long awaited bonus didn’t materialise. If this has happened to you, it is quite natural to feel you’re on an emotional rollercoaster, anxious, worried, stressed, depressed or filled with dread.
Perhaps it’s been a tough year; you feel pressured and are struggling financially. Although attempts to keep up with the Jones’ may look or feel fabulous, realistically this simply compounds stressful woes. Maybe you are eager to please your family, and keep the peace? Perhaps you feel let down or guilty because of your financial situation? Either way these emotions are disconcerting and stressful.
What about family obligations? Possibly after an arduous, long year all you want to do is kick off your shoes, chill out, be quiet and relax but you feel bombardered with demanding obligations – family reunions, the dreaded in-laws, noisy kids, or those ever-pressing, incomplete DIY chores.
Not everyone enjoys spending so much time with family. The inevitable and often unpleasant questions arise, “Who will we spend time with this year? Your family or mine?” Then there are the same old awkward conversations, stale jokes or snide remarks that can be so dreadfully uncomfortable causing additional anxiety and stress. We ask ourselves, “why did I do this to myself ... again?” Ensuing arguments, hurt and tears that follows can be traumatic. Small wonder early January sadly yields the highest divorce statistics of the year. So much for happy holidays!
Lest we forget, not everyone celebrates Christmas with the same religious vigour, or gets excited about noisy celebrations and festive cheer. Without being cynical, those nauseating seasonal pleasantries dripping with fake smiles of happiness can be annoying, especially if you’re not in the mood! This fuels dread, anxiety, depression and unnecessary stress for yourself and others.
Since this is traditionally the season of giving, instead of buying unnecessary gifts, can we develop an awareness of other’s needs? Can we show compassion, kindness, respect and tolerance for what others may be faced with? By observing, listening and being mindful we develop and grow ourselves. Surely this is something we should strive towards as sentient beings, instead of accumulating more unnecessary stuff, overindulging or suffocating our emotional pains in order to cope with stress? Can we smile, hug and laugh more? Can we be appreciative, grateful and simply smell those beautiful roses? When we consider others, our own problems dissolve and disappear, including stress.
If necessary, I’m always available to help. Wishing you and yours a happy and stress free holiday!
Bridget Edwards is a South African entrepreneur, author and emotional change catalyst. She is passionate about helping people overcome their emotional obstacles and personal challenges. She does this through speaking engagements, training (workshops), and private consultations. Bridget has authored two self-help books, Anger gone! How to Easily Defeat Anger, and Stress Gone! How to Identify and Reduce Stress Easily. She continues to write self help programs to assist people in dealing with their personal obstacles. www.Bridget-Edwards.com