Edmonton Psychologist | Christmas Is A Stressful Time

Although the song says “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”, what do you do when it’s not?

For more than half of all Canadians, Christmas is a stressful time of the year says Edmonton psychologist Wanda Chevrette. And when it’s supposed to be happy and magical, even admitting that it’s not can be hard. While over 10 percent of Canadians aged 15 and older say that they always or often feel depressed. That number increases, the older Canadians are. And that number sharply increases the closer Christmas becomes, topping at 52% of Canadians who feel lonely or depressed.

Christmas Is A Stressful Time

Your Brain Could Be To Blame

But why are we feeling so sad and lonely during what is supposed to be the happiest time of year? Wanda Chevrette, owner and Edmonton psychologist of ReDiscover Psychology says that there are actually many answers to that question. For one, we are at the darkest part of the year, with only seven and a half hours of daylight at it’s peak in Edmonton . And for many people, the few hours of sunlight actually disrupts the body’s melatonin levels, disturbing mood and sleeping patterns. This impacts your mood, thought processes and more.

For people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) the changing of the seasons brings seasonal depression. While it can happen in the summer or winter, it’s actually more than just winter blues. This is a chemical imbalance in the brain. () Edmonton psychologist says it’s absolutely normal to have down days, but if you feel down for many days at a time, and have lost motivation to do activities you typically enjoy, it’s time to talk to someone. Some symptoms you may experience include sleeping too much, low energy, weight gain and craving high carb foods. So if you’re not feeling your happiest at what is supposed to be the most magical time of the year, that may be why.

Pressure for Perfection

Some people feel pressure to create the perfect Christmas. Whether it’s for your own children, family or even social media, many people feel this pressure intensely. Edmonton psychologist Chevrette says it’s often a perceived or internal pressure. And sometimes, it’s people not knowing how, or that they can set boundaries with family during the holidays. Know that your children, family and friends want time with their loved ones during this special time, not perfection.

And while the urge to create that Instagram Perfect Post is high, just keep in mind that the people who have “picture perfect posts” on social media are professionals, and you really don’t have to have these picture perfect moments. In fact, once you let go of the idea of perfection, you have energy left to spend it on making memories with your loved ones.

Edmonton Psychologist | Celebrating After Loss

Holidays can be hard for people, when they have recently lost a loved one. Especially if this is the first Christmas without them. Even if it’s not, holidays can be painful reminders of who is no longer there celebrating with us. And for people who have lost during this time of year, it can be even harder. Edmonton psychologist Chevrette reminds us that there’s no “right” way to celebrate Christmas. And if you need to take a step back from what you have done in the past to honor your feelings, then you should do that.

Take time to listen to what you need, and what you want. If skipping a Christmas party, or dinner with family is what you need, it’s important to do that.

Grieving at Christmas may look different to each person, advises Wanda Chevrette, the Edmonton psychologist at ReDiscover Psychology. Some people will want to surround themselves with loved ones, while others will want solitude, or having one on one interactions. And if you know someone who is grieving or sad this Christmas, the best thing you can do is be there for someone. Here are some great things to say to someone who is grieving during the holidays:

  1. I am here to listen if you want to talk, or if you just want to not be alone.
  2. I wish I had the right words to say.
  3. It’s okay to feel this way.
  4. Say nothing at all.

Support Your Loved Ones

Understand that your loved one may have bouts of sadness and tears. They may want to socialize or not at all. If you want to support them, being there listening can mean more than you realize, says Edmonton psychologist Wanda Chevrette. While many people tend to put the onus on the bereaved by asking them what they can do to help. It’s much better to just do things, and then they don’t have to. Here are some great ways to support your loved one who’s grieving:

  1. Bring a meal. Cooking can be such a chore when a person is grieving. Make sure though, that you bring them a meal in containers they can either throw away or keep. No one will want to have to keep track of what casserole dish to bring to whom when the dust settles.
  2. Talk to friends to create a meal train. If they have a few meals coming to them at this time of the year, they can focus on feeling and healing during this emotional time.
  3. Do errands. Do they have a pet? Take the pet for a walk, clean the liter box, buy pet food. Buy toilet paper, or grocery essentials like coffee, bread and eggs. Shovel the walk, do the laundry. Just communicate what you would like to do.
  4. Offer seasonal help. It may be hard for them to do the routine holiday activities, like putting up the Christmas tree or wrapping presents. Offer to do any one of those chores. Be sure to bring anything you will need to get it done, it won’t be helpful to show up to wrap presents, and then ask them to pull everything they need out of storage.

Identify All The Supports

While grieving a loss at Christmas can be an emotionally charged time, just know that what grieving looks like is different for everyone. They may look fine, or be happy, laughing and smiling, but be sad on the inside. Supporting a loved one often just means being there. But it can be very helpful for you to have the phone numbers of helping agencies for you, or anyone struggling at this time of year. If anyone needs mental health support, they can call 211 And if you don’t already have a psychologist, Edmonton psychologist Wanda Chevrette and her team are ready to help. Contact ReDiscover Psychology today to get started.