During Christmas and New Years, women experience a lot of stress. They claim that the holidays have a rather tangible (19%) or excessive (7%) negative impact on their mental health.
Advice for women published the Guardiangives Dora Kamau, Mindfulness Meditation Teacher at Headspace, Holiday Perfectionism Meditation Teacher.
25% of the UK population finds Christmas more difficult than the rest of the year. Four out of ten Britons experienced stress during the holiday season, and one in four struggled with depression or anxiety, the paper said. And only two out of five say their mental health improves during the holidays.
Films produced in different countries are full of frames of convulsively rushing about women, and in the background a man drinks beer. “Showing some self-compassion can help stop adding to the stress we already have,” says Dora.
Christmas can be enjoyable, but there’s no denying the stress that comes with the holiday season. Perhaps it’s external stress due to societal pressures and expectations for women at this time to be the best hostess, provide the most perfect Christmas experience, or just have it all together. Outside of our own orbit, there is also the stress we take on from current affairs, not least the cost-of-living crisis and political instability. There aren’t enough gifts or beautiful winter weather to cover the overwhelming burden on women at this time of the year.
But what about men? As shown by recent study, in contrast to 51% of women who called Christmas stressful, only 35% of men were such. This is most likely due to the public expectation that women should do more during the holidays. This is reinforced in modern culture and replicated in films, where the distraught wife is shown in a rush to buy gifts, clean the house and prepare dinner while her husband sips beer on the couch. And even with all the desire to reduce the gender gap, these stereotypes, alas, remain in force.
The first “post-pandemic” Christmas has come, when there is an opportunity to be with family and gather with loved ones living separately. It’s great, but at the same time it adds the pressure of having to make everything perfect to make up for the last two or three years and really wow the guests. With this pressure comes the emotional labor of hosting, which includes buying gifts for everyone, preparing a delicious multi-course meal, and making sure everyone has a great time. But in the hustle and bustle, we forget about our own needs and do not take the opportunity to have fun.
What can lovely ladies do this holiday to ease the pressure a little? Stress is a physiological response to internal and external influences, and the only sure way to alleviate it is to create a better response to it. But for this we need to know how stress manifests itself in our mind and body. This is where mindfulness and meditation come in very handy. Try to notice the various emotions, thoughts, and sensations that come with stress. There are several ways you can answer:
- Try practicing self-care and self-compassion. It is important to balance your time with others with taking care of yourself. Determine for yourself 2-3 simple ways in which you can infuse energy into yourself in the same way that you infuse energy into others. Maybe it’s taking a walk outside, setting boundaries for your social time, or scheduling some time for yourself. If you have 12 minutes of free time, you can take a short meditation course. This will help you let go of any judgment or criticism, creating a sense of spaciousness and acceptance. If you don’t even have those 12 minutes to spare, just treat yourself to some self-compassion to stop adding to the stress you already have.
- Practice mindfulness. Take a few deep breaths, check your mind and body, and try to approach situations without judgment. Just a few points, regularly practiced, will help you enjoy this wonderful time of the year to the best of your ability.
- Reach out to friends or family for support. Often we think we are alone in our feelings. However, when we share our feelings with others, we quickly realize that many of them feel the same way. You may also be surprised at how quickly help is offered – after all, this is the season of giving.