Coping with the stress of Christmas

Guinea-Pig-in-lightsThis is the third Christmas on the ‘let’s talk!’ blog and here at The Terrace we like to share our hints and tips for coping with the stress and strain of the season. However one celebrates at this time of year, it is impossible to avoid the crush in the shops, the inflated prices and the temptations of food and alcohol that can lead to those ‘morning after’ feelings and affect our overall well-being at this  time of year. Coughs, colds and other bugs adore the warm, wet weather we have had so far and the last thing we want is illness to drag us down when so much needs doing. We are at risk of scuttling round like this gorgeous guinea pig, ending up under the duvet and desperate to avoid all the trials and tinsel.

Jane Gotto has come up with some wonderful ideas over the years, and here we offer more of her thoughts on how to cope over the coming weeks. Today we focus on that awkward moment when you are making final arrangements for the days over the holiday:

Think about what you would like to do for Christmas

If final plans are not yet made, and you dread some of the options open to you, take time to make sure days are, as far as is possible, arranged in the way you would like them to be. If necessary, come up with alternatives and check with family and friends if you are concerned that changes may affect them.
Do NOT allow yourself to be pulled into an arrangement which you know is
not going to work for you. It IS just a few days in the year, and the temptation is to think only about making others happy (that is what we all hope to do at this time of year after all) but the anxiety and stress can be present  for weeks in the lead up and can effect health, sleep and general well-being for a long period. 

Come back early next week for some more wise words from Jane, who has years of experience in supporting individuals and couples through testing times. Christmas can be great fun, but it can also put a strain on the closest bonds….

If you fancy a pre Christmas massage, our therapist Sarah Sellick still has a few appointments available at a reduced rate. Or why not buy a loved one a relaxing massage for Christmas? Contact us about gift vouchers on 01823 338968.
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Is the pressure getting to our teenagers?

drinkingAs many as one in thirteen adolescents experience symptoms of depression and anxiety at some time. The condition can be deceptively difficult for parents to recognize however, and not only because teens often adhere to a don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy when it comes to expressing their emotions.

We have learnt a lot about anxiety and depression during the last few decades but in many ways nothing has changed since I was a teenager 40 years ago – disheartened really that we are re-creating the same old, same old – pressurising teenagers to be ‘who we want them to be’, with a constant stream of examinations – where they have to perform on a yearly basis, within narrow and repetitive fields. Add to this an underlying attitude that teenagers are going to be ‘trouble’ and difficult, rather than us reaching into our skill box and learning new and creative ways to be with them.

During the last decade I have been interested by the culture of ‘comatose drinking’ realising that drinking may be this generations way of responding to the pressure we are putting them under. The cycle of our pressurising performing culture creating a default psychology of their need to let go – literally through alcohol by becoming paralytic. We create the pressure and this is the letting off of their steam – cause and effect – simple really…

Do we stop and think “Maybe it’s not them” – maybe it’s us creating an anxious environment. We may be creating a world that is ‘progressive’ but until we learn to be more people centred and respond on a human level to each person, and young person, as an individual we are not using the information we have to provide our young with the best possible start.

Let’s start listening and acknowledging our young people and allow them to express themselves as unique individuals, say who they are, and allow and listen to their feelings. That would be a good start to reducing anxiety and depression, and taking responsibility that we are part of the problem.

This post isn’t meant as a plug for a book  but if you have a teenager in your home I have found  ‘Changing Bodies Changing Lives’  by Ruth Bell very interesting – it discusses everything that affects teenagers in an open and inclusive manner and supports parents too.

Jane Gotto, UKCP Registered Psychotherapist, works in Taunton with individuals, couples and families, supervises professional counsellors and psychotherapists and co-leads Post Graduate groups at Spectrum Therapy in London. Jane founded The Terrace, Humanistic Psychotherapy and Complementary Health Centre, Staplegrove Road, Taunton in 1994. 01823 338968, http://www.the-terrace.co.uk http://www.janegotto.co.uk