Why can Christmas be such a difficult time for some? by Petronella Grobbelaar, Psychologist

Ilze Groblergeneral, Psychology

As we start to approach the end of an experience, we start to reminisce, think back, and review how the experience was. 

What you need to know about your mind

We do the same with every year we go through. By the end of the year, we start to think back to the events that occurred and the lessons we learnt. The reality of how our brain works in this reflection and observation however is, we see the world the way we feel, not the way the world is. This means, when we think and feel a certain way, our brain will look at our experiences with this “lens” and therefore, we do not see the whole picture. 

An additional challenge for this time of the year is also the fact that Christmas can be described as a magnifier. I recently had a conversation where this concept of Christmas as a magnifier was shared with me, and I think it is so true. Through this magnifying lens of Christmas, if things are relatively good in your life, it is seen as great and extra positive; if things are hard, difficult or if you are unhappy about an area of our life, Christmas can magnify this as well. 

The reality of our day-to-day life at this moment in time, is there are a lot of factors that place adults under additional stress i.e., increasing interest rates and cost of living. This, at a time of extra expenses, can be a difficult thing. Combine this challenge with a time of giving, gift giving and entertaining guests or attempting to make extra special meal gatherings and the stress and pressure can increase/get worse. 

Therefore, we enter this time of reflection with a few factors that could contribute to making this time of the year, a hard and stressful time.  

What you can do

  • In order to approach this time with less of a lens/magnifying glass, I would like to encourage you this year to see the whole picture – the good, the hard and, the lessons learnt. When we reminisce about events that occurred this year, let’s talk about the things that made us laugh just as much as the things that made us cry/challenged us. If that is too hard, lets state all the facts of the year i.e., “I got to see person x”, “even though it was hard, I got up and gave it my best”. 
  • A further skill to use during this time is to be present, in the moment. Be in the room you are with all your thoughts and senses. Observe who is around you, hear what is being said, smell the foods being cooked, hug those you love. When we feel anxious or low, we tend to worry about things in the future or dwell on things that happened in the past. The skills of being in the present moment, helps us to not dwell on the past or the future and helps us to create meaningful connections and memories with the people around us, our community, and our family. 
  • The longitudinal study by Harvard University which commenced in 1938 with the question about what makes us happy in life, has found after 85 years of research that it is not our career achievements, healthy diet, exercise, or bank balance that makes us have a long healthy life. It is our relationships and connections. Good, positive relationships are the biggest gift and medicine we could invest in. Therefore, during this time of celebration and rest, be present in the room and talk about all your experiences and memories. Focus on strengthening relationships. 

If this is hard for you or you find yourself unable to change how you are thinking or feeling, please know, our team is here to support you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Zest Infusion Team. 

From the whole Zesty Team, a wonderfully blessed Christmas to you all. 



Share this Post