Christmas time is often portrayed as a time of joy, laughter, family, and magical experiences. But that is not the case for many, and it’s ok to not be ok at Christmas.
2020 has been a difficult year for a lot of people, with redundancies, businesses struggling to survive, stretched finances, children at home 24/7 and parents becoming teachers overnight, fear and worry about us or loved ones getting ill, holidays cancelled, events postponed, restrictions on spending time with others, and constant uncertainty.
And if you have been dealing with mental health problems, anxiety, chronic pain, past trauma, substance misuse, heartbreak, baby loss, domestic abuse, or other stressful situations as well then you might be feeling really deflated this festive period.
There are some simple things you can do to make the most of the festivities and time with family even if you aren’t feeling at your best right now…
Go easy on yourself
Piling on the pressure to feel a certain way when you don’t feel that way isn’t going to help.
Accept how you are feeling right now. Then drop the expectation to feel something else.
Also drop the pressure to be and do everything for everyone. All you can do is do your best with what you have, no more no less. And people will understand if you’re not up to something right now.
If you need to slow down and put your own needs first, here is permission to do just that.
Don’t put everyone else’s needs above your own then spend the festivities feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and resentful.
Take the time out you need and enlist help from others so everything doesn’t fall on your shoulders.
Presence over presents
Quality time with friends, family and loved ones brings more happiness than exchanging gifts. So don’t get into debt buying presents or be stressed if you can’t afford much this year. Plus, young children often prefer to play with the boxes and wrapping paper anyway!
People will enjoy seeing you without needing gifts – and human connection is really important to our wellbeing.
Try making a gingerbread house or homemade Christmas decorations with family or a friend or bake some biscuits and drop them round to neighbours to help you get to know them better and brighten their day.
Christmas dinner is just a roast
People get so stressed about Christmas dinner, especially if cooking for extended family members. But don’t forget it is just a roast dinner.
Add more trimmings if you want but let the cooking experience be a positive mindful one, or even shared by everyone.
No one is going to mind if it isn’t perfect, in fact the times when it all goes wrong are the times we remember and laugh about in the future.
Like defrosting a steak pie instead of an apple pie for dessert or smashing the oven door on Christmas morning and attempting to BBQ the rest of the dinner in the garden!
Make next year different
The end of the year is a perfect time for reflection and making new plans.
Not just arbitrary New Year’s Resolutions, which you make and break year after year and feel worse off for.
I mean really looking at your life, breaking it down, seeing which bits you love and making plans to do more of that, and removing the bits you don’t like.
Commit to learning more about yourself and improving important areas in your life such as relationships, or work, or health. Books, podcasts, and online courses can all be a good place to start your journey.
Counselling can also be a great way to uncover the real you hiding under that tough exterior and getting to the bottom of behaviours that stop you from living well.
As a trained and experienced psychotherapeutic counsellor, I can help you develop new ways of thinking so you can move past the things that are holding you back, giving you a toolbox of strategies, to live more positively next year.
If you would like to book a counselling session, you can contact me here.