How to handle the stress of Christmas – The Need to be Perfect.

One of the biggest problems in our society is the need to be perfect. On the television there are advertisements and whole programs on that perfect presentation. And if you open a magazine to escape the pressure, there are likely to be articles about the perfect dinner layout and the perfect Christmas menu. Not surprising that many people feel the pressure to be perfect at Christmas. And that is stressful

If this if your stress this Christmas, there are some helpful things you can do to reduce that stress.

The first is to ask yourself what that need for perfection is all about. Are you trying to prove yourself to someone?

The expectations of others can be very difficult, especially when they are imposed on you by an important relative, such as your mother.

Christmas is such an important family time for many and it is easy to get caught up in the pressures that existed in your childhood. Especially when you are surrounded by messages of perfection.

So how do you deal with that?

That depends on how great the need for that relative’s approval is.

Sometimes being aware of that pressure and making a decision not to be affected by it is enough.

For others, brief mindfulness meditations are really helpful.

One such meditation is known as 4-7-8 breathing. To do this, find somewhere where you will not be disturbed. Sit comfortably but upright. Set a timer for five minutes. Closing your eyes will make it easier to focus. Breathe in so that your tummy rises for the count of four. Hold your breath for the count of seven. Then breathe out through pursed lips for the count of eight. While you do this, focus on your breathing and the counting of that breath. Put other thoughts out of your mind. If thoughts creep back, just gently push them away. Focus on this breathing pattern until the five minutes is completed. Practise this several times a day. Three to five is very effective. Most people find this really calming.

If you find the significant relative has more impact on you and is harder to ignore, then it can be helpful to see a counsellor who specialises in treating adults who have had difficulty in childhood. Seeing a counsellor is, of course, a long term solution. In the interim, try the 4-7-8 breathing meditation to get you through this Christmas as stress free as possible.



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