Christmas Time Stress

Christmas has always been described as one of the most beautiful, magical, and divine holidays of the year. This time of the year often opens the heart of many strangers to the needs of others. Homelessness, world hunger, giving and sharing, love, and joy are just a few words that are frequently used during this time of the year. People are so much more conscious of the needs of others and are more willing to spread love and warmth. But sadly, Christmas time can also bring a great deal of stress, primarily for individuals who have struggled with income, family relationships, a marriage or parent-child relationship, hunger, homelessness, medical conditions, and mental illness among many other things. For the stressed and the oppressed, Christmas only reminds them of the daily pressures they have to cope with. This article will explore some of the common issues that occur around this time of year and offer ways to cope.

This article is for those who are struggling and/or who are facing quite a scary and uncertain New Year.

Christmas, for me, has always been a beautiful time of the year to reflect and show the greatest amount of gratitude for life, love, good health, and things we tend to take for granted. My faith is also more freely expressed and embraced during this time as well. But I’ve noticed that there are people who do not feel this way and who would rather ignore Christmas Day and never acknowledge it.

I have worked in a variety of non-profit agencies, hospitals, clinics, and schools where kids have been abandoned by their families, given over to foster or shelter care, and are struggling with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder during this time of year. These kids and their families would rather not be sucked into the “holiday spirit” because for many of them, there is nothing to celebrate, nothing to look forward to, nothing to hope for. Sadly, many kids, primarily those who are receiving inpatient care (e.g., hospitals, residential facilities, or 28-30day programs) are not going home for December 25th and may not see their families until next year or maybe never. Even more, many of these same kids do not hear from or receive visits from their families on December 25th. The agencies that house these kids are relying on the generous donations of churches, nonprofit agencies, or caring individuals to help give these individuals a real Christmas. Thank God for these people!

For individuals who are homeless, suffer from severe mental illness, and lack family support, the holiday is a time of stress, remorse, depression, suicidal thoughts, self-injury, or flashbacks of severe abuse, neglect, or some other kind of suffering. Christmas is a reminder of what these individuals do not have and of what they have always wanted.

If we keep these individuals in the forefront of our minds this holiday season (and many more holiday seasons to come), we can add a touch of kindness, a heartfelt donation, a hug, a smile, a handshake, a prayer, a pat on the back, etc. to make the lives of these hurting individuals so much better. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?