The Envision Counselling and Support Centre is offering advice on how people can have a stress-free Christmas season this year.
"For some of us it's a whirlwind of gift-giving, holiday parties and activities," said counselling supervisor Christa Daku. "This is a season meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, but it can also be the burden of holiday stress for many."
Stress is a necessary part of life for survival and happiness, Envision stated in a press release. But too much stress can have a negative impact on mental and physical health, which, unfortunately for many people, strikes during the Christmas season.
Envision says that people attempt to do too much in a very short period of time. Too many activities, even if they are fun like baking, shopping and partying, can manifest into too much holiday stress. This may leave people feeling frazzled rather than delighted.
The holidays are also a time that extended families gather, which can also bring out the worst in people. Many families have roles that each member falls into that have more to do with who they used to be than with who they are today.
This can create feelings of dread, rather than love, at these gatherings.
Loneliness can be just as much of a problem for others. As other people are gathering with family, those who rely more on friends than family for support can feel deserted and alone.
"There are some tips that can be helpful during this time," said Daku.
People can simplify by being realistic about how families change and grow, and by having traditions that often change as well. It's important to let go of unrealistic expectations, both on one's self and on others, and invest time and energies wisely.
According to Envision, those who feel isolated or down should seek support to deal with some of the negative feelings experienced throughout the holidays. Volunteering at a community function is one solution. Getting involved in helping others can lift spirits and broaden a social circle at the same time.
"The stress of the holidays can also impact the functioning of the family," adds Daku.
Envision has several supports in place to assist people. Their 24-hour abuse/sexual assault support line and their website are two places where information and referrals can be explored. Envision also has a variety of counselling programs that can be accessed by calling one of their offices.