Christmas holidays: psychological stress and depression? How to survive them without stress?

Christmas holidays: psychological stress and depression? How to survive them without stress?
Photo source: Getty images

But is this really true? Psychologists don't think so! In fact, the pre-Christmas stress and chaos, like Christmas itself, is a great strain on the human psyche. For many, this period is one of the most difficult of the year.

Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year for most people.

How to spend it calmly and without stress, especially during the pre-Christmas preparations?

For strong believers, it is the day of the birth of their savior,
for lesser believers, it is a time spent with family and loved ones.
It should be a time of joy, peace and togetherness.

That's the role they should play, but that's not always the case.

Christmas is gradually losing its meaning and charm these days.

Christmas is one big commercial, don't get carried away!

Christmas has become an important season for both big and small traders and retailers who are trying to sell as many of their products as possible.

They make a lot of money during the holidays.

Shopping malls are crowded with people who often go into debt just to be able to afford to buy what belongs at Christmas.

A woman has an empty wallet and a head full of stress from pre-Christmas shopping
Shopping takes a toll on the psyche and the wallet. Source: Getty Images

Lack of money, unfulfilled wishes, but also other reasons create a gloomy atmosphere.

Tension, irritability and even anger build up, anxiety and other negative psychological states deepen, which can have serious consequences.

Every year, people become aware of the arrival of Christmas a little earlier, which means that stress also comes earlier.
The reason for this is the advertisements that are really everywhere, indirectly forcing their product or service on us.
They strategically draw attention to everything that people lack, don't have and could have.

It's a time of stress, tension, conflict and strife between people.

In the run-up to Christmas, there is a huge psychological strain on people, even if they are not fully aware of it.

Everyone is rushing everywhere and we often see people envying each other and competing with each other. But is it necessary?

Envy and competitiveness create a negative attitude in the individual towards the other, conflicts and quarrels arise.

We also see more arguments among family members who are not used to spending so much time together. Some are forced together because that is the way it should be at Christmas.

There is an increased level of unwarranted tension, internal pressure and stress. Similar feelings are experienced by those who spend Christmas alone.

Pre-Christmas stress has an impact on people's health

Stress is the body's defensive response to an actual or potential threat. The body's response to stress is objectively visible (the manifestations of stress) and is intended to deal with the situation by activating all forces.

It is both an alarm and a defensive reaction of the organism. The body signals us that something is wrong. At the same time, it defends itself by adapting.

It follows that stress is less beneficial because it forces us to adapt. It is more harmful and threatens human health.

Manifestations of stress:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • reddening of the skin, especially the face
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • heart palpitations, chest pain
  • hot flushes, excessive sweating
  • nausea, vomiting
  • dry mouth
  • general weakness
  • body tremors (internal and external)
  • increased tension
  • psychomotor restlessness
  • irritability, anger
  • stuttering, speech disorders
  • disturbances of memory and rational thinking
  • insomnia
  • irritable bowel syndrome

Stress levels increase at Christmas

During Christmas, the level of artificially created stress increases in direct proportion to the increased demands on the individual.

Pre-Christmas cleaning, gift shopping, tree building, decorating lights, baking cookies and other little things can keep us fully occupied.

Everyone wants to get everything done and everyone wants to be more prepared than the other.

However, this is the worst approach one can take. One takes on a burden that one may not be able to bear.

The five most common Christmas stressors:

  1. Pressure from the environment
  2. Pressure created by advertising and the media
  3. Financial pressure
  4. Family problems
  5. Loneliness
Animation shows a woman stressed about Christmas shopping
The list of donors is not the only factor that drains our energy. Source: Getty Images

How to have a stress-free Christmas? 5 questions

A fundamental aspect of managing excessive stress is learning to value yourself and prioritise what is really important to you.

Ask yourself:

  1. Do you want to spend the holidays in the comfort of your home or at the mall?
  2. Do you want to be surrounded by your loved ones or a crowd of strangers?
  3. Do you want to argue or enjoy every second with those you love?
  4. Do you want to buy expensive gifts and go into debt, or gifts according to your budget that still please?
  5. Do you want a house full of food you won't eat anyway, or a cake baked with love by your loved ones?

... You can ask yourself countless such questions in your mind and answer them honestly.

Based on your answers, it will be clear to you that you are actually creating your own stress so that you don't stand out from the crowd, while your priorities are quite different.

The Christmas holidays are a time of severe depression

Depression is defined as a severe affective disorder (disorder of affect, mood) in which morbid sadness predominates.

It is not an isolated mental illness, but a disease of the whole organism.

The person is unable to enjoy the things that used to bring him pleasure, loses interests, isolates himself from his surroundings, withdraws into himself, and experiences prolonged sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, fatigue and inner tension.

The psychological picture is complemented by the physical manifestations of depression, which are also a manifestation of a somatic illness in which the psychological state has played a major role.

Manifestations of depression:

  • feelings of sadness
  • frequent crying
  • pessimism
  • lack of interest in the environment
  • isolation
  • inner tension
  • despondency
  • slowed reactions
  • thinking disorders
  • disturbances in concentration
  • memory disorders
  • reduced self-esteem
  • feelings of guilt, self-blame
  • fatigue, exhaustion
  • loss of vital energy
  • suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, suicide
  • general weakness
  • disgust
  • weight loss
  • pallor in the face
  • insomnia, circles under the eyes
  • general untidiness

Christmas brings with it states of depression and its deepening

As with stress, depression starts to deepen at Christmas, as evidenced by the increased number of calls to helplines and helplines.

A number of factors are involved in the deepening of old depressions and the onset of new depressions.

Firstly, the increased stress levels mentioned above, but also the increasing number of arguments, conflicts, loneliness, lack of finances, but also reflection on the past year and awareness of all the negatives and losses (divorce, death).

Are you sad and think no one could be worse off than you? Wrong!
According to statistics, one in two people suffer from depression at Christmas. That's up to 50% of people on the planet. What causes it?

The most common causes of Christmas depression:

  • loneliness, isolation
  • the weather (dark, cold, lack of serotonin)
  • increased environmental pressure
  • financial difficulties
  • family problems
  • evaluation of the previous year, feeling of failure

How to survive Christmas without a sore soul? 11 tips

Depression varies in severity from mild to severe. During Christmas, there are bouts of worsening, so each individual depression should be taken seriously and not underestimated. A patient suffering from feelings of sadness should not be left alone!

What to do when sadness overwhelms you:

  1. The best cure for depression is companionship.
  2. Do not try to isolate yourself.
  3. Try not to take everything that has happened so seriously.
  4. Let bygones be bygones
  5. When negative thoughts come up, pour them out, don't hold them in.
  6. Live in the present.
  7. Think positive.
  8. Occupy your mind with something pleasant.
  9. Dust off old interests. Sports, music, meditation, painting are good.
  10. Prepare a soothing herbal tea.
  11. If necessary, take medication, see a doctor, a psychologist.
A woman relaxing during Christmas is happy
There are several ways to avoid stress and depression. Each person must find the most suitable one for himself. Source: Getty Images

There is a lot of advice on what to do when someone is suffering from intense sadness. But we can never understand the experience of a particular person unless we have experienced the same situation.

But if the above information helps at least one in a million, it is still a success. Every life is important.

At Christmas, the risk of suicide increases

Suicide (suicidium in Latin) is the voluntary ending of life.

Women are more likely to attempt suicide, but completed suicide is more common in men. This is because women use less drastic means compared to men.

Women are more likely to drug themselves or slit their wrists. Men choose more drastic means such as jumping from a height, throwing themselves in front of a train or hanging themselves.

Depressed people are the most likely to commit suicide. Almost half of the total have previously used alcohol or other drugs.

Suicide can be said to be the culmination of a severe form of depression. The patient has decided to end his or her suffering by taking his or her own life. It also occurs in other psychiatric disorders, but also without them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one person kills themselves every 40 seconds worldwide. The incidence of suicide is higher in Western and developed countries. They are also the most common cause of death for people aged 15 to 24. Unfortunately, the statistics also include children.

During Christmas, the number of calls to the shadow line increases, but the number of suicides remains the same

The number of calls to the emergency line is higher at Christmas. It's not just suicide attempts, but various other problems. Some calls are justified, but most are not.

However, some somatic complaints, such as palpitations, tremors, hyperventilation, chest pain, dizziness, high blood pressure, are triggered by a psychological superstructure.

More common are depression, feelings of helplessness and economic problems, which are closely related to depression.

Christmas depression increases the risk of completed suicide. The patient's condition is aggravated by lack of finances, family conflicts and loneliness.

How does a patient who wants to end his life behave?

In practice, there are two basic types of suicide attempts, divided according to the patient's intention.

There are patients who genuinely want to kill themselves and usually succeed.

Then there are patients who, although they have some problems, only want to draw attention to themselves by faking a suicide attempt.

Demonstrative suicide is a type of feigned suicide attempt. It is most common in women aged 15 to 30. Patients are more likely to warn the person who is the cause of their bad mood that they are going to kill themselves (verbally, by text message, by email). In this way, they force the attention of a particular person.

Examples of demonstrative suicide:

  • gently slit wrist (scratched, slightly bleeding)
  • ingesting a small amount of medication or lying about ingesting it
  • preparing a rope or cord, wrapping it around the neck

Behaviour of a patient realistically contemplating suicide:

  • psychological difficulties, previous trauma
  • previous suicide attempt increases risk
  • substance abuse (alcohol, drugs)
  • never draws attention to himself
  • isolates himself from society
  • self-blame, feeling like a burden
  • anxiety, crying
  • irritability, aggressiveness
  • thinks often, is thoughtful
  • is withdrawn, communicates little
  • if he decides to kill, it's when he knows he won't be disturbed
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Interesting resources

  • - Stress, eustress and distress
  • - Suicide doesn't have to be the result of mental illness. How to recognize suicidal behavior?
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