Tuesday 18 September 2018

How Christmas can make you sick

Inside - how stress affects us, and how to overcome it with a Christmas plan.

Imagine it's Boxing Day.

There's no place to be, the kids are happy playing together, and all the chores are done.

You sit down to finally watch your latest Netflix binge, and feel a tickle in the back of your throat.

It's the day after Boxing Day, and you've developed a cough.

You don't have time to get sick with New Years Eve plans.

But by New Years Eve, you're in bed all day.

Your body has thrown a hacking cough at you, but you thank the stars no one else is sick.

It's Christmas' fault you're sick in bed on New Years Eve.

Wait, what?!

Yep, it's because of Christmas that you're sick.

Well, actually, it's because of all the stress you put yourself under.

What is Stress?

In simple terms, stress is a natural response from the body to dangerous situations.

In modern times,

stress is an imbalance between the demands put on us, and our resources to deal with those demands {source}

How does stress show up in the body?

Stress can show up emotionally, manifesting as anxiety, depression or even anger. It can create tension when interacting with others, or even internally when we're left with our own thoughts.

Stress can show up physiologically, as high blood pressure or heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath or headaches. Sometimes memory loss can be a symptom of stress.

Stress can show up behaviourally, as over (or under) eating, nervousness, or even insomnia.

How you can "fix" stress

The best way to ease stress is through prevention, and understanding how you deal with stress, and having systems in place to help you.

1 - stop and listen to your body. However stress manifests for you, stopping and paying attention can have a huge impact. It allows your brain the space to catch up, take a breath, reassess  and come up with a plan for moving forward.

2 - do a brain dump. Get everything out of your head, onto a piece of paper. Now your worries don't look as big, and hopefully not so overwhelming.

3 - make a plan to tackle the issue. Creating a plan to tackle the priority issue will help move you away from stress. Complete each step one at a time, and celebrate when you're done.

What does that have to do with Christmas?

Big events that run over a period of time, like moving house, planning a wedding, or Christmas, can have significant impact on our well being.

If stress is part of the event (and let's face it, who has moved house or planned a wedding without stress?) our bodies can stay in a heightened sense of alertness for a long period of time.

As adults, we believe that the Christmas of our childhoods were perfect.

There was mountains of presents for everyone.

The table was covered in food.

Friends and family visited with  even more presents.

And we want to give that idyllic experience to our kids.

But if we talk to our mums about their experience of Christmas, I'm sure it's completely different.

They felt guilty, because one sibling had more to unwrap on the day than others.

They felt rushed because food needed to be on the table by 1pm.

They're still kicking themselves for not getting that present earlier in the year and having to drive to 3 different shops to find it (no internet in those days!)

Christmas stress is a real issue for mums.

How can you overcome Christmas stress?

Prevention is better than cure.

And one of the best ways to overcome the stress of an event is to have a plan.

And a good planner.

A place to write down everything.

Not your phone, where you put a reminder, but never look at it again.

Not Trello, that you move cards around in, but never look at again.

A real, honest to goodness, pen and paper planner.

Something that can be sitting in front of you to write down random ideas in.

Something that you can hide away from the kids if they're the snooping kind.

Something that you can pull out again in ten years time to flip through again, because no one is coming home this Christmas.

Do you have a Christmas plan?
How do you overcome stress?


Linking up with Kylie Purtell for IBOT



  1. Can't believe the Christmas posts are starting already! I agree that we put way too much stress on ourselves over Christmas when really it should be a joyful time.

  2. A brain dump always helps me. I always feel much better when I can see it all written down, it doesn't look half so overwhelming then!

    1. It's taken me a long time to really see the benefit of something I was taught in primary school.

  3. I love Christmas and love everything about it. It's funny because we do think ours were perfect yet when I talk to mum, she will tell me a different story. Relax and enjoy the entire occasion.

    1. yes, I've had many discussions with my mum and oldest daughter about those differences.

  4. Very wise words Cate. I know I used to have enormous expectations way back about 'how Christmas Day should look and be' and it deterred others in the family from enjoying it as much. Learned to give away all expectations around 5 years ago and we no longer host nor attend family Christmases as our family and the dynamics have changed considerably and it is best to let the next generation do things their way. I have some great memories too, it was not all bad! Thanks for the reminder. Denyse x

    1. when I think of what my mum went through for us, I cringe a little at how ungrateful we were :(

  5. It is pretty crazy we put so much pressure on ourselves for one day of the year, although I do try to get in early with as many things as I can and share the load so it isn't too stressful. Great tips!

    1. spreading the load really does make it easier!


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