Christmas time is a joyous occasion for many – a chance to take leave from work, spend time with family and friends, and generate enough leftovers to get you through to the new year. One of the best parts of Christmas is watching your child bursting with excitement and launching heart-first into the festivities.
For others, however, Christmas can be difficult. We often reflect on loved ones that are no longer with us or traditions that can no longer be carried out. Not to mention financial and social pressure associated with hosting/attending family events and buying presents for (how many!?) family members. When Christmas becomes something to “just get through” it would be safe to say that the approaching holiday season has got you feeling not so merry and bright. So how do you keep your cool this Christmas?
Schedule time for yourself
There is often a pressure to make the most of the holiday season by catching up with every relative and friend. And trying to fit these in around the myriad of Christmas parties and end of year concerts is like a frustrating game of Tetris. It is easy to see why the holiday season can be overwhelming. That is why it is a great idea to schedule in quiet time. This may be a sit down to watch a Christmas movie with the kids, or a full day without any parties or visitors. Whatever downtime looks like for you, schedule it in with the same level of commitment that your schedule all your other Christmas events.
Let go of the ‘shoulds’
Often people find themselves doing everything to keep others’ happy on Christmas in an effort to live up to impossible standards. This can leave them feeling mentally and physically exhausted. There is no shame in prioritising your needs and mental health over the Christmas period. Take the time to consider what is important to you this holiday season and plan festivities around that. If the mere thought of the next event leaves you with a sense of dreed, it is okay to say ‘no’.
While it is easy to be swept up in the buying/gifting side of Christmas, there is always room for gratitude and thankfulness. Research shows that focusing on what you are grateful for every day can increase mood and reduce anxiety and anger. Practicing gratitude also has long term benefits for your physical health!
Whatever the holidays look like for you, be kind to yourself and do what you need to stay safe and connected.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!