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After weeks of frantic online shopping and present wrapping, you've suddenly aunts and uncles to entertain, cousins to make small talk with, and all of this with a permanent smile plastered across your face - perhaps it's no surprise it can leave so many of us feeling burned out.
A recent poll of 2,000 adults in Britain found meeting expectations of relatives, social commitments, and the pressure to pay for everything, leaves many feeling stressed and overwhelmed over the holidays.
Feelings of anxiety and exhaustion have been compounded by the pandemic, with four in 10 reporting pressure to make things extra special after almost two years of being home alone, according to the poll by Skipton Building Society.
Psychologist and PTSD, trauma and anxiety specialist Zoë Clews says she ‘consistently’ hears from clients who experience this type of anxiety during Christmas.
“It’s all about pressure,” Zoe tells Tyla. “There’s huge expectation that Christmas should be this wonderful, twinkly, magical time where we’re all living in a feelgood festive movie.
However, Zoe says this is rarely how the day normally goes. “Christmas is rarely perfect. We usually set our expectations too high, which leads to disappointment or resentment and before you know it, all that unprocessed emotion that families often have boils over."
On top of this, your family may be grapping with additional issues - such as divorce, grief or financial hardship - which could make it impossible to live up to the expectation of a perfect Christmas.
Even before the pandemic began, a 2019 study by YouGov found that around a quarter of the population said they found Christmas more stressful than any other time of the year.
But, after the past 18 months, many of us are still acclimatising to being around large groups of people again.
"The festive season is already a struggle for the socially anxious, so add a pandemic and large numbers of people who are seriously out of social practice and you’ve got all the ingredients for a group situation that triggers social panic,” Zoe explains.
“And the effective cancellation of last Christmas automatically means this one really counts for a lot of people and – ta-da! – have instant pressure.”
Zoe notes that parents can particularly feel burned out because they try to give their children the perfect Christmas, which is 'impossible', and end up neglecting their own needs.
“Parents think parental burnout is just a normal consequence of parenting, but it really isn’t. Yes, of course you need to put your children first – but you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, to give your kids a great Christmas, you need to look after yourself, too.”
Pleasing others is not a priority – even if they have slaved over those canapes for hours. You, however, are a priority.
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