Is Christmas Getting You Down

Date Added: December 11, 2008 04:45:02 AM
Author: Georgina Bell
Category: Lifestyle & Relationships

Christmas comes but once a year” And do I hear you add “Thank Goodness!” The advice from the sixteenth century revellers was to “dance and sing and make good cheer” but for many of us these days, after the months of preparation and anticipation, the season to be jolly may bring stress, marital discord and depression in its wake. In one survey nearly half of the respondents owned up to secretly dreading the festive season, and more than a quarter warmed to the idea of falling asleep on 23 December and not waking up until 2 January. So, with the best will in the world, battling through to see the New Year in with a smile can be a challenge needing all your survival skills!


UK charity Depression Alliance, reports that the number of help line calls they receive goes up by 40% over the festive season, so if you're depressed at the prospect of Christmas you're not alone. Feelings of isolation, bereavement or the pressure to make Christmas 'special' may bring on the symptoms of depression, such as persistent low mood, disturbed sleep patterns, loss of appetite, low self-esteem, exhaustion, anxiety, loss of concentration and motivation, and, at the extreme, feelings of just wanting to end it all. The classic physical symptoms include headaches, racing heartbeat, shortness of breath and upset stomach.


The darker days of winter don’t help, as the evenings draw in and the natural daylight we all need to keep our spirits up all but disappears. Seasonal Affected Disorder, aptly abbreviated to SAD, can give us a dose of the winter blues, because the lack of sunshine adversely affects the biochemistry in our brains. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men and it is generally the mums and housewives who will be under the greatest pressure in the long build-up to Christmas.


In past times, Christmas was something to look forward, but not until December. Now the hype begins in October, or even earlier, and this ever increasing commercialisation is heavily laden with stress, as we are urged to spend, spend, spend. The crowds, the queues, the panic buying, the parking chaos, no wonder the festive dream becomes a nightmare!. Armed with our plastic and our pins, it is so easy to splash out far more than we set out to, especially on the latest hi-tech toys for the children. "Buy now but pay later" comes down to earth with a great sense of anti-climax when the belated bills roll in.


Christmas can be a sad and lonely time for those who are alone, but it is often the last straw for couples. Mounting debts is a prime festive flashpoints, even more so this year with the credit crunch and mounting redundancies. As well as the money worries, divorce lawyers cite: “being forced to spend more time together, increased drinking, illicit text messaging and the temptation to stray at office parties” as factors contributing to the post-Christmas peak in relationship splits. Then, of course, there may be unloved in-laws to contend with!


UK Hypnotherapist, Georgina Bell, who specialises in emotional healing, reports a surge in pleas for help in early January each year. She says the key factor is our positive or negative frame of mind.


So how can we best plan to get through?


(1) If you must spend time with people you don't get on with, plan ahead to keep this to a level you can reasonably stomach.


(2) Go easy on the sweet stuff, too much plays havoc with the blood sugar, causing irritability and fatigue. Moderation with alcohol too, remembering that after the initial fillip, it is a depressant. Raw fruits and vegetables, and lots of water will help to counteract these, and go nuts for nourishment, brazils (for the anti-depressant selenium); walnuts (for brain-boosting Omega 3), and almonds (for relaxing magnesium and calcium).


(3) Too much sitting is a definite downer especially after a heavy meal. So stretch your legs A brisk walk in the fresh air is the perfect way to burn off all those Christmas calories. Or if you have a garden to tidy, there’s an excellent excuse for exercise and solitude.


(4) Try really talking to each other for a change – the television and computer can be switched off!.


(5) If you can agree a reasonable budget beforehand, stick to it. Be assertive when you need to say ‘no’.


(6) Amidst all the melee, remember to take time out for yourself. Spoil yourself, if only in a nice hot scented bath. Close your eyes and let all your Xmas worries and woes melt away.


Now that’s the spirit!


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