Why you feel stressed at Christmas time

Stress. I have it in droves at the moment. Far from being the most wonderful time of the year – often I find myself so stressed out I cannot think clearly or function well. Even though I am technically going on a break from work, I will continue with some freelancing and I have to keep in contact with a few people and colleagues for various reasons – there is simply no “checking out” these days anymore. I already have a short appointment booked for Monday. I am tired just thinking about it!

Time is running out to Christmas!

And of course there are the million other things I have to do! I have to renew my driver’s license (it’s expired!) and finish some Christmas craft projects (oh hot glue gun – you are the bane of my life!) and stupidly, I have decided to pay an enormously hefty tax bill which I was given this week which runs into the thousands of dollars.

Yuh. Uh huh. I am STRESSED out of my skull.

Everywhere I turn in my life there is a massive project that needs to be done. From the 200 page document I have agreed to edit for a freelancing client to the mountains of socks without pairs that are cluttering up my drawers to the manuscript that needs work and is gathering dust and resentment. HELP! What can I do?

Stress in my dreams at night

Last night I had a dream that I was on my hands and knees in the middle of a room, screaming my heart out! It wasn’t even a human scream, more like a high-pitched dog whistle. I just kept screaming, “I am so stressed, I am so stressed!” to a room full of people while The Boyf patted my head (like a puppy!) and told me to calm down. This was a dream, but were it real life, he would hopefully have done the same.

Stress can cause me to have a meltdown

The dreams shocked me a little, because really I am quite happy at the moment, just over tired, I think. I am a stress head by nature, in fact, I could say that I come from a family of stress heads. Stress can be a positive thing, it can drive us to achieve great outcomes and give us energy and chutzpah. It can also be a negative thing which can cripple us and place our closest relationships in jeopardy. If I am spinning too many plates, when one little thing goes wrong I can ‘snap’ and have a meltdown. What happens to me when I have a meltdown? I have written a post on my meltdowns here. See for yourself.

What is stress?

According to helpguide.org:  ‘Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight-or-freeze” reaction, or the stress response.’

The ways we display stress

Psychologist Connie Lillas has developed a theory (source) about how people display stress.

  1. Foot on the gas: An angry, agitated, or “fight” stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
  2. Foot on the brake: A withdrawn, depressed, or “flight” stress response. You shut down, pull away, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
  3. Foot on both: A tense or “freeze” stress response. You become frozen under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralysed, but under the surface you’re extremely agitated.

I can say that at times I display all three, but by far and away the type of stress I usually show is the first kind.

Stressful jobs

There are lots of job roles where people report higher levels of stress during this period. For example, nurses and doctors. According to nursingtimes.net: “The festive season often brings many detrimental health effects, which nurses may encounter when coming into contact with patients over the coming weeks.”

About 5 years ago, a Medical News Today article warned that Christmas pressures could lead to anxiety, sleep disturbances, headaches, loss of appetite and poor concentration. It went on to mention that these are all identifiers of stress.  It also said that over time, stress can contribute to heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Stress: it’s a serious thing, apparently and it really could kill you. If you are a stress bunny like me – take a deep breath with me now. It will be OK!

“Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.” Marilu Henner

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