Managing Christmas

As well as the chance to unwind and get stuck into some extra treats, Christmas can be a time of stress and pressure for many.

Difficult for Children

Most of the media coverage we see is of ecstatic children unwrapping presents by the Christmas Tree and an open fire. But the reality of Christmas can be somewhat different.

Children crave routine and structure. It helps them feel secure, and it offers them a lot of comfort as they try to navigate the world around them. But at Christmas time, this all changes. Creches and schools are closed. They don’t see their usual friends and teachers. Their patterns are disrupted. Sleep cycles change and their diet may even change with more treats and snacks.

So it’s important for us to remember that they may find some elements of Christmas difficult also. Helping them to mange the changes to routine and all of the excitement around presents will enable you both to cope a little easier over the festive period.

People under pressure

The Christmas season can see people come under a lot of pressure. There is a cultural expectation about atmosphere, connecting with friends and family. There is a huge amount of expectation, and that can weigh heavy on our shoulders.

We are expected to socialise more, to reconnect with old friends. For many of us, Christmas represents an opportunity to unwind and take it easy. The thought of watching a few movies, going our for lunches or going for a long walk is then interrupted by the pressure to meet people and spend time doing things you might not really want to.

It’s important to look after yourself. It’s ok to just say no, that you are not available, or perhaps join in but for a limited amount of time.


Taking time for yourself over the Christmas period is important. It is too easy to get caught up in the pressures and preparations to the extent that we forget about ourselves. Many of us are guilty of not letting go of work pressures. But it is so important to use the opportunity of a few days off to unwind.

Taking some time off work will of course depend on the industry you work in. For example, retail workers may have their busiest times in the lead p to Christmas. But there may be quieter days on the horizon in early January.

Whatever your situation is, take a moment to consider what you can do for yourself. Have a think about when and how you can take some time to relax, and maybe indulge in your hobbies a little more than usual.

Financial Worries and Stress

A lot of people find themselves facing financial pressures in the lead up to Christmas. It’s not uncommon for people to over-extend themselves financially. This can lead to a lot of stress and worry in people.

There can be a huge cost in buying presents and hosting people at Christmas. It’s not cheap to wine and dine a family of ten people on Christmas day! But it’s very difficult to say no, or to manage that spending in a way that is comfortable for you and your family.

Apart from the financial burden, the subsequent worry can take its toll on people. It’s too easy to say that we just shouldn’t spend the money or to ignore the problem it can cause. Instead, it is wise to recognise the issue and create some solutions. Knowing that a plan is in place to manage the debt can relieve a huge amount of stress.

Grief and Loss

Christmas is a time that many families and friends come together. But for many, there is a strong sense of loss or grief. Loved ones that we cherished may no longer be with us. Perhaps parents or brothers and sisters have passed away. Christmas is a time of year when those feelings can well up in us, and we’re reminded of the loss.

There is nothing unusual in having these feelings. But it’s important to recognise them and acknowledge them for what they are. Brushing them under the carpet, as we are culturally prone to do in Ireland, will not help.

The best way to deal with these feelings of loss and grief will be different for every individual. For some, having a chat with another family member who also feels that same grief will help. For others it may be something as simple as carrying out a ritual or a custom that you used to do with the lost loved one.


Every person is unique and we all have different expectations from Christmas time. A lot of the frustrations that we have are relatively minor, and we can deal with them easily enough. But for some people, the weight of worry or the anxiety can be hard to bear. If that is the case for you, remember that it is ok to not be ok. Reach out to a family member, a friend, or a professional to get the assistance that you need and deserve.

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