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How to take stress and loneliness out of the silly season

19 December 2018 - 12:56 By nivashni nair
Not everyone feels jolly during the festive season.
Not everyone feels jolly during the festive season.
Image: 123RF/stokkete

Don't let unfulfilled goals, loneliness and a lack of cash be the Grinch that steals Christmas this festive season.

As many people prepare to celebrate the festive season with lavish presents and parties, clinical director of the Jullo addiction rehabilitation centre in Merebank, Durban, Dr Lochan Naidoo, said it could also be a time of sadness, despair and acute loneliness.

"Some of the main reasons why people become despondent especially during this time could include unfulfilled goals, loneliness or the lack of money.

"It is also a time in which people over-indulge or turn to various substances in an attempt to mask their emotional pain," he said.

To navigate the stress this festive season, Naidoo advises:

Be financially prudent and live within your means.

"Gifts, food and outings are synonymous with the holiday season. However, so too is unemployment, debt, school fees, school uniforms and trying to please or fit in with the family.

"Handmade gifts show that you took the time to make something special. Why not give as a gift an item which you no longer need but might be of value to someone else? There's nothing wrong with admitting that you can't afford to buy something," he says.

Plan ahead and schedule enjoyable activities to avoid feeling lonely.

"You could mingle with others who are in the same situation or attend public celebrations. It's a good time to reconcile with estranged relatives and old friends or make new ones."

Avoid conversations that cause fights or change your reaction to situations to ease family tension.

"Everyone has tension in their lives so be as understanding as possible. One way to keep warring factions apart is to celebrate with one group of relatives on Christmas Eve and another on Christmas Day. Plan after-lunch and group activities to keep everyone busy and distracted to avoid stressful situations."