The Xmas Holiday period feels very much like a holiday here in Australia. The schools take a summer break, the weather is beautiful and most of us can take a holiday.
Whilst the sun shines, this time of year can also bring a whole load of mixed feelings for lots of people.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Xmas
As the year draws to an end many of my conversations focus on a number of familiar emotional themes.
Here’s a snapshot:
The panic and fear of not getting all the tasks at work closed off
Excitement and anticipation about the forthcoming summer holiday
Managing stress and anxiety of strained family relationships
Sadness and despair at missing absent loved ones
Joy at seeing relatives and friends returning from overseas for Xmas
Feelings of nostalgia about happier times gone by
Pride at finishing up a year of fulfilment and success
Confusion and sadness about recently ended relationships
Disappointment, sadness and anger of family separation
Anxiety about organising shared and reasonable access with the kids
The stress of keeping children occupied during the holidays
Fear and shame at not being able to afford all the gifts and food seemingly expected at this time of year
Feeling lonely when all the family are overseas at Xmas
Envious of people who can afford to take a long holiday
I’m not so sure that these feelings are any different from other times of the year. However, they all seem to come with an added weight of expectation that Xmas should be a merry and happy time.
Here are a few festive thoughts I often share with people as they cope with the stresses and strains of Xmas Day.
Tips for not having to be merry this Xmas!
There’s no right or wrong
The way you feel and the way you acknowledge Xmas is entirely up to you. Trust your own needs. You don’t need to justify your Xmas Day to anybody.
Lighten the load
Get some help from family, friends or work colleagues. Help could be a cuppa and a chat about what you need to get you through the festive season. If you’re struggling with big emotions, check in with a counsellor. If you’re mandated with the task of creating your family Xmas delegate wisely.
Pause a moment
It’s busy everywhere, the roads, the shops, the car parks, the trains and the cafes! Finding a quiet spot can be a challenge, however, if you can, take a break, go away somewhere with lots of space and fresh, clean air. Or stop anyway, wherever you are, breathe deeply and take a pause from the hectic nature of your day. In your pause, acknowledge and validate your feelings whether they’re positive or negative. Pause often. Do it now!
Don’t buy in
You know those difficult, tetchy, conflicted relationships with family members, ex-partners, bosses or work mates and friendships? Maybe if it’s not about forgiveness, you could step back from the people who are just not good for you. You could do this either literally by keeping away from conversations with toxic people, or metaphorically by exhaling all those negative feelings at regular intervals throughout the day, between mouthfuls of food or sips of champagne!
It’s not supposed to be perfect
If you look at all the advertising around this time of year or watch the numerous Xmas movies, it appears we are supposed to be eating an abundance of the best food, at an amazingly decorated, glittering table, exquisitely wrapped gifts nestled in the biggest xmas tree or on the perfect beach with masses of festive fare. All of which require us to be smiling with whitened teeth from a fresh, stress less face! If that does indeed float your boat, enjoy! However, that level of perfection is unreasonable for most of us. Do your best, it’s not supposed to be perfect, and if the turkey is a little dry, make lots of gravy!
Overindulging appears to go with the festive territory. With the many Xmas functions and the numerous Xmas meals ingested on Xmas Day lots of people get to feel sick, bloated, hung over and guilty by Boxing Day. I say, take it slow and make it healthy enough to feel good on Boxing Day!