by Lorna Cordwell, Head of Counselling at Chrysalis Courses
Remember to switch off
Many of us are so busy in the run-up to Christmas with Christmas parties, all the preparation and tying up work projects. It can be hard to suddenly stop and relax. Plan ahead and have a stopping point where you tell yourself enough is enough, if it’s not done, it doesn’t matter.
Stop trying to make everything perfect for others
Everyone has their own idea of what perfect is and we’ll never be able to please everyone. If you think your friends and family will criticise your efforts that is their problem. A smile and a warm welcome will mean more to most people than an expensive treat. Ask and expect guests to contribute their time, food and entertainment. This will all make for more warmth and more fun.
Don’t try to do the impossible
Squeezing in visits to all your relatives and spending a lot of concentrated time with family you may not get on with can be incredibly stressful. Make sure you are being realistic - Christmas Day is a day of no public transport and you can only be in so many places. Use skype or other video methods, and don’t make it all about Christmas Day, there are other days over the holiday period.
Ease the pressure on yourself to be cheerful
From a heavy cold to a serious illness, feeling unwell at Christmas is exhausting and not much fun. Christmas is a holiday and should be a time to relax. If you experience depression, you might be putting yourself under extra pressure at times like Christmas and thinking you ‘should’ be having fun. Many of our Christmas traditions, like the Yule Log burning and putting lights on trees are to bring in the warmth and light at the darkest time. Treat yourself with the same kind of care. You are important and so is your health and wellbeing.
Remember it is a time for the children
Christmas is special and magical for children. If you and your partner are not together, work out in advance and in an adult way how the children will enjoy things the most. Stretch Christmas out over a few days if it means everyone is happy.
Going to be lonely this Christmas?
TV and movies nearly always show big family Christmases, but this is not the reality for most of us. If this is you then take responsibility for this. Plan ahead. If you want to be on your own, then use the time to do something you really enjoy. If you don’t want to be alone then tell people or invite people to spend time with you. People aren’t mind readers, they might not realise you will be alone. Think about volunteering on Christmas Day or joining a lunch club in the local area.
Stop trying to fit everything in before Christmas
The lead up to Christmas brings out a craziness in us where we believe that everything has to be finished for Christmas. Remember it doesn’t. Does it really matter to you whether the new bedroom suite is delivered for Christmas or not? Deadlines bring stress, so don’t make unnecessary ones.
Make sure you have time just for you
It’s easy to lose our connection with our selves at Christmas time. Whether it’s taking a long bath, a short walk, or insisting it is your choice of movie you watch this afternoon, remember that everyone having a good time includes you. Take time for yourself. Grab those half hours – and plan them, even if you are staying with relatives, make time where you are just alone.
Missing someone special?
When you’ve been bereaved or broken up with your partner, facing Christmas can be hard. Accept that you feel this way and lower your expectations. There is nothing wrong with taking time to remember and to shed a tear or two. Don’t try to feel some way you are not feeling. If you need to talk then arrange that you can. Counselling is a good option at this time and the Samaritans are available to talk if you feel lonely.
Remembering happier Christmases?
Perhaps your life has changed and you feel that Christmas won’t be the happy occasion it once was. Happiness is subjective and no-one feels happy all the time. Feeling content might be a better goal. Nurture yourself, take care of yourself. Tap into the Danish idea of Hygge which is all about being cosy in the long winter months. Snuggle up with your favourite movie, a warm drink and blanket by the fire and enjoy the moment.
These 10 tips were brought to you by Chrysalis Courses, the UK’s leading counselling and hypnotherapy training organisation. Find out how you could train in just one year with weekend sessions at their centres across the UK at www.chrysaliscourses.ac.uk
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