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

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read