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A lot of time, effort and money go into creating the perfect Christmas, but tempers can be frayed easily when things don’t go to plan. Unruly children and stressed out adults can make for an unhappy Christmas period if you let things get on top of you.
Dr Alex Yellowlees, a psychiatrist from The Priory, advises adults to lower their expectations and avoid over-indulgence during the festive period so that they are better equipped to cope with any problems. He told The Hour:
“Christmas can be extraordinarily stressful for a lot of people, particularly women who take on the responsibility of doing most of the cooking and doing all the shopping. The pressure is huge, especially for some groups of the population such as the elderly, the depressed and those with financial problems.
“It becomes a pressure cooker situation at Christmas and our expectations can be incredibly high. We feel it has to be the perfect Christmas sometimes or the happiest Christmas ever. I think the first thing to do is to try and lower our expectations to make them more realistic and to decide what it is that we really want to get out of Christmas for us and our family.
“Generally not over-indulging is a good idea. Too much alcohol does initially lower anxiety in social situations but inevitably you get a rebound from that the next day and it can really lower mood. For people who are vulnerable to anxiety and depression it can be a tricky time.”
Children and teenagers can make Christmas more difficult for adults. Temper tantrums and moodiness can lead to misery and stress, especially if you have been burning the candle at both ends and running yourself into the ground trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone. Dr Alex advised:
“Don’t feed children too many E-factors and give them some down time when they’re watching DVDs interspersed with opening presents and playing games. Getting them outside in whatever weather is fantastic and burning off some energy playing around with whatever new presents they have.
“Teenagers should be left to be what they are, which is teenagers. It can be difficult for them being made to sit at the table and chat to their auntie, and if they can’t do that then they shouldn’t be made to. Teenagers are often moody and need time to be by themselves and they should be allowed to be able to have this.”
For more information on The Priory, see the website.