Get rid of Christmas stress
Christmas is a time of family. But it can also be one of stress. From figuring out who’s going to bring the taro, to where Uncle Sam, Aunty Penina and their six children are going to sleep when they come to stay, your family can find themselves feeling more frazzled than festive. Especially when the pressures that accompany our busiest holiday period can often escalate into higher rates of violence and abuse. Because it’s Our Families, Our People and Our Responsibility, we have some useful tips to help take the pressure off as we count down the days to ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.
Christmas often means a fuller house, perhaps the whole extended family, more responsibilities and a purse with depleting funds. For some, it can also mean violence.
Over the Christmas and New Year period, the number of domestic violence incidents spikes dramatically. But 80% of cases go unreported.
The limited statistics available show that our Pacific population is overrepresented in such incidents.
Violence is not who we are as a people. We certainly shouldn’t let the pressures we face leading up to Christmas be an excuse to use any form of violence on anyone, let alone our loved ones.
If you’re being abused, remember, it’s not your fault.
Violence is never okay.
It is okay to ask for help (see some ways to seek help at the end of this article).
Try these practical tips to help you and your family to stay stress-free and safe these holidays:
1. Make a list
Write a list of people you need to get gifts for and a list of things you need to do. A list will help you keep track of what needs to happen before the celebrations, so you don’t get to Christmas and realise you’ve forgotten to buy bread for the kids who don’t eat taro.
2. Get an early start
Buying gifts and decorations early means you won’t have to stress about it closer to the holidays.
3. Share the load
Rather than taking everything on yourself, remember that many hands make for light work. Try not to do everything on your own. Christmas is a time of sharing, and one thing you can definitely share is the responsibility. Make sure everyone has something to do, or bring to the table, so you’re not left stressing over it all.
4. Keep your cool
Control your breathing. When you’re stressed, your heartbeat increases and your breathing shallows. Work on reversing this process and take time to breathe deeply. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold for 15-20 seconds, and then breathe slowly out through your mouth. Repeat for a few minutes to instantly help reduce feelings of stress.
5. Limit your alcohol intake
Avoid excessive alcohol. It’s hard to keep your family safe if you’re intoxicated. Alcohol also dehydrates your body and increases the amount of work your liver has to do. Drink larger amounts of water or juice than alcohol to help you stay hydrated and feel better when coping with stressful situations.
6. Have Fun
Try to relax and laugh, have fun and a good time. While it’s not your fault how people will act during the holidays, how you respond to it is up to you.
Remember, it’s Our Families, Our People and Our Responsibility to look after and love one another.
If you have experienced family violence or would like to talk to someone about how to keep you or your family safe, call or txt 1737(external link). For online help you can ask Aunty Dee(external link).
If it is an emergency call 111.