M.Sc. Adam Schmidt

The approaching Christmas holidays often bring mixed feelings into our lives. For many, these are quiet moments spent with family, traditions full of warmth and memories of joyful moments. However, at a time when the world is changing rapidly, Christmas can also bring shadows of anxieties, fears and the impact of the challenges brought by the difficult times in which we live.

Joyful traditions and shadows of Christmas

The season of Christmas, when traditions become living stories of families and communities, involving traditional food preparation, decorating the tree and sharing memories of times past, creates rituals that build bonds between generations and provide people with a sense of connection and security.

However, we cannot help but notice that for some people, Christmas is a challenging time. The great pressure for a perfect family reunion, the burden associated with finances, with gifts and memories of lost loved ones can cause great anxiety and stress... At that moment, Christmas, a holiday of peace and well-being, can become a difficult and endless moment. It is important to recognize these challenges and find ways to work around them.

If we find that our own internal resources and coping strategies are not enough, which is perfectly legitimate under heavy load, it is important to "not be alone" and seek professional help.

"Psychotherapeutic support can provide a space to share emotions, manage stress and find effective strategies to better manage the difficult situations we find ourselves in."

Professionals can offer new perspective and skills that strengthen our ability to enter the holiday season with greater resilience and well-being. Perhaps even the possibility to return to their essence...

Effects of time, stress and hardship

In recent years, as a result of global events, the social perception of Christmas has changed. Economic uncertainty and restrictions associated with the pandemic, war... all of these can affect how we experience the holidays. We think about the challenges we face and find ways to connect the traditions with the reality of the present time and this is not an easy task.

If we find ourselves in a situation where we begin to see Christmas as a time of stress rather than joy, it is important to look for ways to protect ourselves. No one has the right to determine how we relate to them. Specifically, this can mean, for example, a simpler approach to preparations, open communication with the family about expectations, and an emphasis on taking care of one's own mental health.

"Let's remember that we don't have to live up to the expectations of others, but we can create space for a more authentic experience of the holidays."

Risks associated with addiction and prevention

In addition to emotional challenges, Christmas can also bring risks associated with excessive use of alcohol or other addictive substances. In times of pressure and anticipation, alcohol can become an attraction for relaxation and stress relief. After all, we also know this from everyday life... during the "celebrations" we get a legitimate "green light", especially afterwards to drink alcohol. However, it is important that we are aware of the potential risks and consequences associated with consumption.

At this time, the pressure on social events is also increasing, where alcohol is rarely encountered. This can lead to reckless consumption and increased risk for those prone to addiction. If we notice that Christmas makes us feel anxious, lonely or stressed, escaping to alcohol or other substances may actually be a tempting "solution", but our mental state will not improve in the long term, and that's a fact.

Alcohol is a depressant, which will temporarily and seemingly relieve the tension we are in, but after sobering up, the negative effects on our psyche will be several times greater.

We should not forget that for those who have experience with drug addiction or alcohol addiction, this time can be especially difficult. It is important to seek support from professionals, family or friends and to maintain open communication about your emotions and needs.

At the same time, it can be important for others to be sensitive and supportive, providing a safe and inclusive environment during holiday events and gatherings.

As we think about the season of Christmas in relation to addictions, it is important to acknowledge their dual nature and be open to a common dialogue about healthy stress management. To support those who choose to prioritize alternative strategies instead of substance use, but also those who fail to make such a decision.

Let's take care of ourselves, because we will be with each other in the next year as well.

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