Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

GIVE FESTIVE STRESS THE HEAVE-HO-HO-HO; MICHELLE O'CONNOR Gets Expert Tips to Help You Avoid Christmas Burn-Out This Year

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

GIVE FESTIVE STRESS THE HEAVE-HO-HO-HO; MICHELLE O'CONNOR Gets Expert Tips to Help You Avoid Christmas Burn-Out This Year

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHELLE O'CONNOR

AH, CHRISTMAS... a time of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men. But along with seasonal joy comes a stocking-full of stress. Two-thirds (67%) of people find Christmas Day stressful and women rate festive stress levels at seven out of 10 with money worries, cooking times and family politics contributing to the problem.

So, if your 'stress-o-meter' is likely to go into the red zone, read on DO A CHRISTMAS AUDIT FAMILY traditions are all part of the season. But we can also get into a rut and do things not everyone enjoys, warns Dr Meg Arroll, psychologist on behalf of Healthspan.

This is particularly true as kids get older. It's less about the event itself, which youngsters may have outgrown, and more about time together. If they are complaining, drop expensive rituals like the panto for something universally appealing - like watching Elf (laughter is a great stress-buster).

TAKE STOCK TAKE in what is going on at Christmas, says Dr Monica Cain, psychologist at Nightingale Hospital.

"Then tune into any feelings you are experiencing. If those feelings are positive, then congratulate yourself for taking the time to notice and enjoy. If your feelings are negative (stress, anxiety, worry), ask yourself what one thing you could change to alleviate the situation."

MAKE A WISH LIST HAVE seasonal treats such as a romantic meal or a family walk on a frosty day to stay connected with the joy of Christmas, suggests Dr Arroll.

"Doing something different will help you keep a sense of perspective as the pressure mounts later on."

SACK SUPERWOMAN ASKING for help isn't an admission of failure and makes everyone feel involved. This year, enjoy Christmas rather than just survive it.

Practise this phrase, "I could do with some help" Give jobs to the people who'll enjoy them, set some (realistic) deadlines - and don't interfere!

KEEP EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC FIND ways to cut the time spent with those who make you unhappy, says Mark Griffiths, professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University. "You may not be able to change your family's dynamics, but at least be aware of how your family can affect your psychological mood state."

MAKE SOME CONTINGENCY PLANS BE aware of your stress triggers and have a strategy for coping, suggests Dr Arroll. For example, "If my brother-in-law starts to wind me up, I will make an excuse to leave the room for a while."

MAKE FAMILY TIME COUNT MARK says: "Basically, do anything where you have to interact with each other. Even making the Christmas dinner could be a communal activity where each adult and child has a specific job."

TAKE TIME OUT STRESS can arise just because there is a houseful of people and little 'me' time, warns Mark. Find a moment to do something on your own. …

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