“’Tis the season to be jolly, la la la la la la la la la…”, or is it? Many people struggle when they sense Christmas is coming. Memories of cabin fever, family feuds or rifts can surface.

How To Have Meaningful Conversations

How To Have Meaningful Conversations

To help you navigate your way through the dark days and nights of TV specials, here are my top 6 tips for coping with Christmas. There are many ways to put a little sparkle back into your life so that you survive - and thrive - during the festive season.

1. Create your own ritual

This year is likely to be a different Christmas but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to bad.

Try creating your own new ritual . Find something that brings you peace and joy. Your ritual could involve lighting candles, being outside or throwing things away that you no longer want to keep. Ask yourself what’s meaningful for you and go do it.

2. Review and reflect

Make the most of the dark evenings to take stock about the last year. What have you learnt? What surprised you? Before making any resolutions about the next year, dig into your experience of the past year.

See if there are any relationships with family or friends that could do with some attention. Christmas can be the perfect time to reach out, re-connect and re-establish a bond. Sending a Christmas card is an easy way to let someone know you’re thinking about them and of seeing if there’s still life in a relationship.

3. Get back to basics

Get in touch with what really matters. In these times of economic austerity, treasure what you do have. Play a board game, get out some old family photos, wrap up warm and go out for a walk.

Find a way to have a real conversation with someone you care about even if that means doing it by Skype. If you’ve struggled to talk at other times, ask them about how their hopes and fears for the year ahead and share what’s on your mind.

4. Make the most of the down time

The two weeks over Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to allow yourself some time off from emails, tweets and Facebook. Enjoy the spaciousness that comes from switching off your laptop.

It’s the one time of the year when there’s a national holiday so make the most of it. Put some energy back into yourself by taking time to rest and enjoying a long soak in the tub.

5. Find other outlets

If you find yourself getting moody, frustrated or withdrawn, find ways to let off steam. As the poet Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

To help you keep your cool, find healthy ways of venting. Go for a brisk walk, do a workout or scream out loud while driving alone. Do what it takes to have a rant in a way that doesn't jeopardise your relationships.

6. Offer to help

Challenge yourself to make a contribution in some unexpected way.

It is the season of goodwill, after all. Getting out of self-absorption and into action is not only a sure-fire way to make you feel better, but it will also do wonders for your relationships.

Article by Sarah Rozenthuler author of How to Have Meaningful Conversations: 7 Strategies for Talking About What Matters, published by Watkins

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