By Ekaette Udoekong
The holiday season should be a time to relax, rest from the stress from work, unwind with family and friends. During the festive season in Calabar, the streets are flooded with children adorned in colourful attire to perform traditional folk dramas and masquerades. Others mask themselves with coloured raffia or hide their faces under heavy makeup as they pass in groups to showcasethe best masquerade in a combination of song, dance, and drumming. Unfortunately, this tradition is slowly dying out as fewer children participates but rather are enrolled in the largest street party – the Calabar Carnival. However, this tradition still remains a major way of celebrating Christmas in most remote villages in the south-south.
During this period there is a common trend; A throng of young adults and a few elderly people at bars and clubs. There is an increase in alcohol consumption, bandits and pickpockets at bus stations, religious activities, loud music and a hike in the prices of commodities. So far, these difficulties and stressors have not stopped Nigerians from celebrating Christmas with gifts and family reunions.
Before the actual day of Christmas, preparations and commitments are made and these could be overwhelming stress for some persons. Shopping, financial strains, traffic on major routes, crowded marketplaces, and unwelcome guests, late night harassment by hoodlums, hike in the prices of commodities and the fear of commitments in January the next year. Typically, I would say that we live in a Christmas culture where spending of money in the last month of the year equals love, charity, kindness and relaxation for a ‘fulfilled’ year.
Typically, for families and individual who are unable to follow the Christmas season trend, it becomes depressive and for those who lose loved ones during the season celebration is done in sadness or no celebration at all.
In general terms the holiday season come with a lot of stress and anxiety that could be managed by:
- Early preparation including early shopping and budget trimming (to accommodate needs not wants)
- Keeping certain aspects of home life constant and maintaining usual routines to avoid stress throughout the season.
- Doing things in moderation; Food and drink are a big part of Christmas festivities for most people overindulging in drinking, other overeating which may constitute a health issue.
It’s been reported that 1 in 20 people find Christmas to be more stressful, the holiday season does present certain challenges and stressors which can become overwhelming. If unmanaged all positives pleasure that come at Christmas time can be undermined although certain level of stress is almost unavoidable at this time of year. As this is December, many towns and cities would be empty as most Nigerians will move from the cities to their ancestral villages to be with family and friends. It is needful to be aware of your bodily responses to stress and focus on what’s really important for you at this time of year.