Keep the peace for Christmas

The holidays can be stressful and that's why you can't allow yourself to get stressed.

For most families the holiday period is an emotional time. Our young children make more demands upon us. Our adult children expect something of us. If our parents are alive, they may have expectations of us. Our friends may expect us to go shopping with them or go to parties.

However, the most heavy-duty of expectations are the ones we lay on ourselves. When we demand of ourselves that we meet everyone else’s expectations and at the same time be happy, we often end up pushing down our own emotions. And suppressing our own emotions is a recipe for emotional eruptions at the most inopportune times.

All of this is normal for the holiday season. However, the occurrence of any recent event out of the ordinary cranks up the emotional temperature even further, making everyone vulnerable.

It seems as if the Christmas holiday celebrations makes us acutely aware of deaths, job losses, children leaving home, health scares, and absences.

So how do you create a peaceful family time when the normal pressures of the season, coupled with the extraordinary events you may be dealing with, conspire to make the time anything but peaceful?

First and foremost, stay aware of your feelings and have frequent open discussions with your partner of what you are experiencing. If at times you are feeling overwhelmed or angry, say so. If your spouse speaks of feeling stressed or afraid, take time to listen. Touch, hug, and always acknowledge what the other is feeling.

Be particularly aware that the mere presence of certain relatives can bring out past, less desirable ways of coping with holiday stress.

For example, when you are with your partner, you both are generally supportive of each other. Yet when his mother is there, he criticizes; or when your father is there, you take his side against your partner in an argument. If anything like this has happened before with either of you, discuss it with your partner in advance and stay alert to the risk.

Guiding principle: You and your partner are the primary family unit, followed by the two of you with your children. Your primary family unit is your highest priority. That’s where your loyalty belongs.

Finally, keep in mind that part of the stress you may be feeling is from old tapes from your childhoods, as you helplessly stood by and watched your parents cope poorly with family holiday stress. If you do a better job of creating a peaceful holiday than you experienced as a child, your children will benefit.

Have yourselves a peaceful, loving holiday.

Dr. Neill is a Central-Island Registered Psychologist.

You can reach him by calling 250-752-8684 or through his website www.neillneill.com/contact.

Just Posted

Team Harrison prevails in Port Alberni men’s bonspiel

Annual bonspiel drew 20 teams from out of town

Wedding plans derailed following City of Port Alberni’s train announcement

Five wedding parties are scrambling to find alternate transportation arrangements to McLean… Continue reading

Kids help Alberni Aquarium build rockfish luminary for next exhibit

Swimming For Change takes over in time for spring break

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read