‘Tis the Season to be Merry!’

Christmas – a time where we often have all the warm snuggly feelings that remind us of the excitement when we were children; the excitement of opening presents, or the togetherness and love of family, as well as all the love, sparkles and happiness which is so touted by the media or seen in movies. In reality, though, this is often very different and this ‘holiday time” – for many – comes with a lot of emotional trauma, unintentionally most times, but certainly there.

This time often presents with family dynamics which need to be navigated, as well as the expectations of others. Many may feel incapable to deal with this season – financially or emotionally – and instead of feeling the excitement, may feel dread. It is certainly a myth that all families experience a blissful family Christmas with all going perfectly as planned. Many families face challenges over this time and need coping mechanisms to get through it every year.

Then, on a more light-hearted note – many may need to physically survive the feasting of food and drink over this period! I know from experience – my wife is Greek and my family Portuguese – we know how to prepare food in excess!
I would like to highlight a few challenges faced at Christmas. Perhaps you can relate to some or could relate at some point. However, at least allow me to give you some homeopathic advice should you ever have to face one or two of these challenges.

  • Facing grief. This is especially pertinent if you have recently lost a family member, which can make it very difficult to be festive. The traditional role that the family member filled has to be reassigned, or their very presence missing is overwhelming enough. I remember my granny was the matriarch of the family and on her passing it was really difficult to set up a new hierarchy; it was like the anchor had been removed. In a close Portuguese family, this is quite an enormous ‘hole’. These feelings of loss can be assisted using homeopathy. Ignatia is great if the grief is acute, and there is still a lot of sighing and tears. Nat Mur is better prescribed if there is more silent grief, which is not expressed. If the grief is such that the person is fatigued and withdrawn, look at a couple of doses of Phosphoricum acidum.
  • Pressured family interactions. This is especially pertinent with family and extended family, who we are not used to interacting with or have been out of touch with, or have different social norms, family values and behaviours and ways of communicating. This may be very challenging esp. when it comes to in-laws and blended family situations. Look into using remedy support like Aurum met, for anger, Nux vom for impatience, and Staphasagria for when repressed emotions are triggered with feelings of humiliation. And obviously don’t forget Calcarea carb for worry and bad news.
  • When there are attachment issues and people feel unsafe getting back into the family dynamics, they can feel unsupported, frightened and craving support, look at the remedy Pulsatilla. Here the patient feels better when supported and given sympathy.
  • Where there are issues of anxiety and anticipation as to how the family interaction will turn out, look at Aconite where there is excitement, anxiety and fear or Argentum nit with excitement, worry, or if the individual is in a hurry with a lot of anticipation. Kali phos is good if there has been exhaustion and nervous weakness, esp. if Christmas is not in a familiar surrounding.
  • Homeopathic serotonin is used for temporary relief of nervousness, anxiety and mood disorders.
  • Please don’t forget Nat Mur if there is a sulking component or a dynamic where the person has a fear of rejection from the family. Pulsatilla can be used where the person has a need to be loved and consoled when under pressure and needs affection and consolation for support.
  • Isolation. Many individuals feel isolated during Christmas esp. if their social interaction skills are weak. They may even feel like the black sheep of the family, having difficulty starting conversations and feeling misunderstood. Many people who experience the sense that they are the black sheep of the family, feel as if no one gets them, resulting in a level of discomfort about facing conversations with family members. Look out for Nat Mur or even Silicea if lacking self-confidence.
  • Overindulgence of all the festive cheer/food, and lack of sleep, is well supported using homeopathic remedies like Nux vomica for too much alcoholic indulgence and to reduce effects of a hangover, together with a lot of water to improve dehydration. It also helps constipation and bloating. Pulsatilla to the rescue to help with overindulgence of fatty foods, where Arsenicum Album is used where there are food poisoning related symptoms, diarrhoea, nausea, weakness and vomiting.

When we are exposed to the stresses of life and emotional pressures at family reunions, it has effects on our hormonal and neurochemical systems. We would not look at taking drugs for this, but there is a lot we can do biologically to get our bodies to better balance our emotional hormones (adrenaline, cortisol and serotonin). The trick is to be aware of what it is that is causing your stress – big or small, emotional or physical and support it immediately before it progresses to something deeper or more severe.

Can you do some exercise during this time? Go for a stroll every day. Get the body to burn through the excess adrenaline? Can you get exposure to more sun light at the appropriate times to stimulate your circadian cycles? Can you give your loved ones a gift of blue blocking glasses to help limit the high cortisol levels produced by excess exposure to social media at bedtime?


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