Saturday, December 13, 2014

The OTHER Reasons We Feel Stressed Out At Christmas

Giveaway Winner

Hi everyone! Well, the first Life in the Woods giveaway has come to a end, and the winners have been selected. The winners were chosen from a hat. Here is my husband's Russian-style hat, with all your entries in it. 

And here is our kitty, Shiloh, wishing she could pick the entries instead. 
My husband chose two random names out of the hat, and here are the winners! 

1. Dina -- she wins a calendar a journal
2. Jenny -- she wins a journal

I am just waiting to hear back from both of you, as to where to send the prizes. Congratulations to both of you! 

Christmas: Why the Panic?

Well, it is two weeks before Christmas, and I confess, I am not even close to being ready for the holidays. How about you? Are you feeling prepared, or just a wee bit  completely panicked, like me? 

Tonight, with my panic brain, I started praying and asking God for understanding. I was trying to pinpoint why so many of us get overwhelmed over the holidays. And what came to me, is that it goes deeper than just having a lot to-do (although that is certainly large part of it.) Here are the four OTHER reasons why we feel stressed out around the holiday season:

1. The holidays are a deadline. 

Because of the importance we place on this holiday time, and it's place on the calendar, Christmas time can act as kind of due date for us.   And I don't mean just a deadline to buy all our gifts, and stock up our cupboards for the upcoming feast. But this time of the year is cut-off, for all the things we hoped to accomplish this year. 
December Calendar, used under CC0 1.0, via Pixaby

The holidays are the end. The end of this year, the end of our hopes for getting what we wanted to, this year. We feel we should have certain things done by Christmas, and if they aren't happening, we judge ourselves, and feel bad. 

For me, this was the year I was supposed to get organized, once and for all. And I am not quite there yet. It's much better, but it wears on me, that I am not where I wanted to be. 

For some of us, it might be personal goals, like weight loss, or or or marriage improving. Or a career goal, like getting a decent job. Whatever it is, we think all year, "by Christmas ..." and then we get to Christmas, and it doesn't happen. 

Yikes! What a letdown. And so we are dealing with, not just the failure to shop ahead, but the failure of a whole year. 

2. Christmas is a time of inventory. 

Now, the second one is very closely related to the first one. First, we feel like we are on a deadline, and then, we may feel that we have to take inventory of what we have done for the year. 
By Mattes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And this does make sense. Because this is what businesses do at the end of the year. They count how doo-dads they have in stock. They tally up their expenses and income, and send the records to the government.

Employees are issued tax returns at the end of the year. Kids get a break, and start over -- next year. 

And the media is all over it.  The ten best marriages for 2014. The worst moments of 2014 ... and so on and so on. 

And I think we feel it, too, even if not consciously. It's in the air, part of our society. And again, this can create real pressure in us, to be good enough, according to whatever standard we feel is expected of us. 

3. Christmas is a time for making memories. 

Please humour me here for a minute, and try to think of three past Christmases of your life. Was it difficult, or super-easy? 

I think for most of us, it is easy to remember past holidays seasons. Even if we don't remember much more about that particular year. 

Why is Christmas so much easier to remember than other times of the year? Well, my theory is that it is imprinted on us to remember the events that happen around the holidays, like no other time. In other words, it's like an instinct, that is not even conscious. 

As a culture, we put such a high importance on the event, it is elevated in our memories and minds, whether we want to remember it, or not. 
By Albert Chevallier Tayler, via Wikimedia Commons

And so why does this sometimes make us panic, or feel anxious? It can make anxious because we feel pressure to make it perfect, to make these special times, that we are sure to remember, good memories. 

And for those of us with children, it is even more important to us, to make good memories for them. And it is this desire, a good desire, to make good memories, to have a good time, that can create incredible anxiety for some of us.

4. Christmas is when relationships are on display. 

Have you noticed how different Christmas is from the rest of the year? I remember one year, seeing a sign on a Tim Horton's that said they were closed, and they usually never close! 

It is the one day above any other when even the most Scrooge-like of employers seem to have more sympathy on their employees and give them the day off to celebrate with family.  

And as we are all told to go and "be with our families," it means that the reality of those relationships shines forth, for better or for worse. 

For many of us, it is quite a bit of "worse" concerning our families, and those relationships given to us, rather than chosen. And that can be scary to face, and make us feel anxious, or panicky, even when we don't know why. 

What Can We Do? 

So, as you move closer and closer to December 25th, and feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do, try to remember that the feeling of panic you feel may be more than merely having a long to-do list. (Although that is hard, too!)

Take a few minutes to examine whether the issues mentioned in the post apply to you. Do you feel like you should have gotten more accomplished this year? Do you feel you need to be accountable for what you have don this year? 

Do you feel pressure to make everything perfect this season? And you feel afraid of facing some difficult relationships this year, that you usually avoid? 

If you are feeling these things, take some time and reflect on what is bothering you, and admit it to yourself. You may deal with it by writing in a journal, praying about it, or talking to a good friend. Maybe your friend is feeling something similar. 

This year, I encourage you to face some of the emotions that may be stressing you out this year. Face them, and remember that it is not abnormal to feel them. I believe as we face our scary emotions, we are more able to welcome some of the wonderful feelings that can also come with the seasons. 

I wish you all a peaceful Christmas! I would love to hear how you deal with stress at Christmas, and how you are feeling this year. God Bless you and your families!

Love Sharilee. If you like what you are reading, sign up for regular through my Facebook page. or receive posts by e-mail here: join here.


  1. And a very Merry Christmas to you and yours, Sharilee. I love this's....magical!

  2. Merry Christmas to you to, Sharilee. And thank you for doing the content and I'm thrilled to win. Please thank your husband even the wannabe picker!

  3. Thank you, Dina! I have passed on my thanks to my husband and kitty. Happy journaling!

  4. Hi Bill, so nice to see you here. I wish you a wonderful Christmas, too, and I agree with you --- there's nothing like this time of year. Take care!

  5. Thank you so much for the giveaway! I'm so excited for a new journal for a new year. My stepdaughter and I have a weekly tradition of a coffee date and journaling.


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