The Christmas Deadline

(This post has been slightly updated from November 2012 but is more relevant than ever.)

It used to be a time of celebration, an opportunity for friends and family to get together, a time to think about the first Christmas and the greatest gift of all. These days, Christmas has simply become a deadline.

Get it Finished

We have to have so much finished ‘before Christmas’. We want carpets laid, walls painted, projects finished, buildings built and so much more all before the 25th of December.

Buy Now!

Retailers tell us we must order now for delivery before Christmas, which I can understand to some degree if it’s something you want as a gift, but most of the time they’re just using the mention of Christmas to add urgency to their sales pitch.

Work Stress

Tradesmen are pushed to complete tasks that really have no relation to Christmas. Whether they’re completed before or after any particular date doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but those paying the bills want their projects all sewn up before the big day. Many workers are feeling the pressure to get the job done before Christmas.

Self-Induced Stress

Then there’s the pressure we put on ourselves. We must ensure that everything’s perfect for the big day. We turn ourselves inside out to make sure that we’re ready for those who will share Christmas Day with us. Gifts, food, decorations, drinks, the list goes on. It’s really no wonder that the ‘Joy of Christmas’ has given way to the stress of what’s become known as the silly season.

Back when I used to work on radio, my regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM was Rev Dr Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales. Each week we chatted about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

About five years ago we spoke about Christmas as a deadline. You can hear our conversation by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post. If you’re looking for ways to turn the tide and make Christmas something you can look forward to again, make sure you take a few minutes to listen.

Slow Down – You Move Too Fast

So, have you felt the stress rising already? Have you ever stopped to ask whether the deadline you’ve given yourself is just a false deadline? Will it make any difference at all if it happens after Christmas?

Is Christmas a restful or stressful time for you? What plans are you putting in place this year to ensure that you actually enjoy Christmas instead of racing at warp speed until you collapse in a heap on the 26th of December?

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Beyond Blue has launched a campaign to help Australians recognise anxiety and then to be able to seek appropriate help. The Get to Know Anxiety campaign features the short film above which stars Australian-born and internationally acclaimed actor Ben Mendelsohn. In the video he introduces anxiety’s symptoms and challenges audiences to do something about it once they recognise the signs.

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where a person feels under pressure, it usually passes once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.

Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t subside. Anxiety is when they are ongoing and exist without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with daily life. We all feel anxious from time to time, but for a person experiencing anxiety, these feelings cannot be easily controlled.

Reports of anxiety have increased in recent years in Australia but it’s not just a problem down under. I’m sure that there are people around the world who would benefit from the resources at Beyond Blue.

Roy Morgan research shows the proportion of Australians aged 18 and over who reported experiencing an anxiety condition in the last 12 months has grown by almost 40% in the last four years. The research showed 13.8%, an estimated 2.44 million Australians, experienced an anxiety condition in the year to December 2012, compared to 9.9% in 2008.

If you recognise the symptoms of anxiety or are suffering from other forms of emotional distress, I encourage you to seek help. A great place to begin is at the Beyond Blue website.

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Panic Attacks

panic.jpgHave you ever woken up in panic?

Do you avoid social situations for fear of experiencing panic attacks?

Have you ever felt sudden anxiety seemingly without reason?

One of my regular radio guests, Psychologist/Counsellor Genevieve Milnes M.App.Psych, MA (Couns), B.Ed, B.Div, from the Belmont Counselling Clinic, joined me again today during my morning programme on 98.5 Sonshine FM.

Today we started looking at the topic of panic attacks. What are they? How can they be treated?

Genevieve mentioned the website Centre for Clinical Interventions and their information on panic titled Panic Stations.

During the segment we spoke to listeners who had experience of panic attacks. We’ll be continuing our discussion on the topic in a couple of weeks.

To listen to today’s discussion just use the audio player at the bottom of this post.

I’d love to hear about your experiences. Have you suffered from panic attacks or is someone in your family prone to attacks? Just click the comments link at the bottom of this post to share your thoughts.


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