Christmas is a festive season around the world. However, there are various negative triggers attached to the season. Here are some of them:
- Gastos or too much spending. If you plot your monthly expenses throughout the year, I’m pretty sure that Christmas-related expenses take up a huge chunk of your annual budget. Because we have the longest Christmas season and commercial establishments start playing Christmas songs as early as September, we probably increase our shopping for a good one-third of the year. Even if we don’t start our shopping in September, the agitation starts as early as then. (There was one time I was having a massage in a nearby spa and they were playing Christmas carols. Instead of the music helping me relax, it triggered a bit of anxiety as I was reminded of the Christmas shopping I still had to do. I had to request them to play their usual soothing music.)
- Because business activities increase during the season, and because there are Christmas parties, reunion and other year-ender activities happening left and right, our already terrible traffic becomes even worse. Traffic is a stressor that is hard to get used to. Years ago I read study about how humans get used to a new level of both happiness and sadness. We often say, “When I reach this income level, I will be very happy.” but once we achieve that, it becomes a new normal and the happiness diminishes. On the other extreme, we may also say, “I can never live without you.” to a loved one but once we end the relationship and after some time, we cope with it and find a new normal. Guess what is really difficult to get used to? Traffic. The only traffic that we welcome is that on our website and other media channels, not the one on the road that prevents us from getting from point a to b in a timely manner. And the peak of traffic stress is definitely the Christmas season!
- Obligatory reunions with family and friends. Although these parties could be a lot of fun, they could also be a lot of stress. There may be family members and friends you can not stand, but still have to kiss, celebrate with and even give gifts to. There are the obligatory aguninaldos you have to give strangers, lest you will be tagged as the Scrooge. Some also have to stress about all the cooking and other preparations they have to do for such reunions.
- Missing family and friends who are no longer with us. Inasmuch as there are relatives and friends that you’d rather not see, there are also those you really long to be with but could not be with anymore. This is our first Christmas without my dear mother, our family matriarch, who joined our creator in March of this year. (I’m tearing up as I write this part.)
- Too much eating and not fitting in your clothes. There’s just too much food intake going on during the season. It happens not just during parties but also at home or in the office because you have to consume (or at least taste) all the sweets and other rich goodies you receive during Christmas. In just a few days, you will look like a suman in your Christmas outfit already.
- The weather. Maybe not so much in the sunny Philippines, but in countries where winter happens during the season, the weather could also add to the melancholy that is often felt during Christmas.
- Yearend realizations. As we close the year, we check which of the goals we optimistically set at the start of the year were achieved. Even if we have checked some of them, the unfulfilled ones seem to weigh more. That’s normal because we are wired to focus on the negative, and it adds to what weighs us down during the season.
- Picture-perfect Christmas. The image of picture-perfect Christmas we see on tv, in the movies and other media channels set us up for failure, at least the feeling of it. If we allow ourselves to be “anchored” on those unrealistic images of Christmas (Click Anchoring Effect to know more about it), then will definitely feel disappointed in ourselves as we see a lot of maintenance work that has to be done at home before we even set up our tree, fail to cook that to-die-for Noche Buena feast and still look gorgeous in our Christmas outfits after all the sweets we’ve been eating, etc. etc.
All the above plus more are among the reasons why the incidence of depression and suicide are high during this supposed season of love and giving. Everything that is lacking in our life is amplified during the season. We tend to focus on what is not there, what is missing, what is wrong, what needs to be fixed.
Maybe the antidote to this is to go back to basics. What is Christmas? What is its true meaning to you and your family? What do you have? Is there something that you can share despite feeling lacking in some aspects?
Create a big space of gratitude in your heart. They say that if we are in an active state of appreciation, the anxious instincts of our brain are cut off. Some would even say that gratitude and depression cannot co-exist. Although most of us would probably find ourselves experiencing both at the same time, maybe it’s allowing one to be more powerful than the other that we could control. And what better way to make gratitude prevail than remembering Christ in all these holiday frenzy.
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Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.
ATTRIBUTIONS: Images from PhilStar.com, Pixabay, Grace-Andover.org, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Giphy were used to help deliver the message of the article.