Why is Christmas stressful? It’s the one time of year when you get time off, eat and drink to your heart’s content, not to mention receive presents. But it can all be overshadowed by our emotions. Stacey Levine, Psychologist and Innate Health Practitioner, looks into the source of Christmas stress and how to manage it over the festive period.

What causes holiday stress?

There’s a common misunderstanding about what the true source of festive stress is and where it comes from. Many people blame different parts of the build-up – having to buy presents, spending time with that family member, getting the food just right – for their emotional state. We tend to blame this long-list for our stress and make it the cause of our negative feelings.

From having been exposed to the Three Principles Understanding (Mind, Consciousness and Thought), I’ve seen that it actually works the other way round: the stressful feelings come from the thoughts you have in anticipation of the event, rather than the actual event itself. These could be worries about finding the perfect present for that special someone, to what your aunt might say this time to offend you over dinner.

I tell my clients it’s really helpful to understand the source of their stress, to feel less of a victim to their circumstances and more at ease with the life circumstances that come along.

When you’re feeling stressed, it’s an indication that you have a lot going on in your mind. You can feel as though you’re not in control of the situation. And the more you worry and try to do something in this state, the more it actually keeps the feeling of stress alive. It’s like putting more logs onto a burning fire. It keeps it burning. This feeling can send you into a downward spiral, with your anxieties getting bigger and bigger and feeling like there’s no resolution or respite in sight.

How to overcome holiday stress

My tip is: be aware of your state of mind. If you find yourself getting stressed, or you’re feeling uptight, anxious and irritable, that’s your thoughts coming to the surface in a very real way. If your to-do list is sending you into a panic, or you’re already planning what you’re going to say when your aunt says that thing, it’s just the thought of what may or may not happen that’s stressing you out. This will not only take you much longer to do tasks, you’ll also lack a clear head to be able to resolve any problems and reach the right decisions.

Therefore, I advise my clients not to trust their feelings about the situation if they’re in an unclear state of mind. The best thing you can do is wait and try to make sense of the problem with a clear head. It’s just a matter of time until a new thought comes your way, that’s how our minds work. Your mind will naturally reset itself, helping you to de-stress and get on with your Christmas to-do list.

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