Hey , fellow Christmas Celebrators !
Yes its come around again, too soon ? Or maybe you are like me , you love Christmas , with all its cheap Maltesers , skinny santas and floppy reindeer ears LOL .I see it as a time to share, love and unwind after a busy year !
But , christmas can be challenging for various reasons, including stress, loneliness, family conflict , distance , extended families , or financial difficulties. Here are some of my suggestions to help you cope with the holiday season:
Set Realistic Expectations: You don’t have to buy out Myers or have a dinner spread like Maggie Beers. You can avoid a big spend out and burn out by taking it step by step and allowing yourself time to prepare beforehand. I used to make Christmas rumballs when we were skint and it was lovely, as its surprising how many people enjoy home made presents. I would customise them with little cards self-decorated add a bit of sparkle and they looked fab. They kept well in the fridge too so I made them a week before.
Mistakes and mishaps will happen !
Creating a to do list an do a single thing on the list each day so that you don’t get overwhelmed or stressed out. Tick them off slowly and methodically .You can give yourself a couple of weeks to achieve everything . The other idea is to delegate to other family members small tasks. Why should you do everything ! Teenagers can be especially lazy and unavailable at the most inconvenient times , get them on board for wrapping presents and shopping for ingredients .Even my son can follow a shoppinglist when pushed LOL . Kids can help with cooking biccies and making treats .
Remember that no holiday season is perfect. It’s okay if things don’t go exactly as planned. I made a Christmas cake once that slid off the back seat of the car onto the carpet and a peach cobbler that the bloody labrador enjoyed enormously an hour before we were due to proudly present it at Aunty Julie’s . I whipped up a load of home-made Baileys in an instant , it went down a treat . There are heaps of instant recipes for anything on line .Google is your life saver !
Here are some other things to keep in mind.
- Create a realistic budget and stick to it. Avoid overspending and the stress that can come with financial strain. You can easily buy through the year when sales are on so that when Christmas comes around you have a ready stock of great gifts that are not overpriced. Black Friday sales are great , too , particularly for jewellery ! As I mentioned earlier home made gifts showing time and energy are so rewarding both to make and receive .Nana always loves pressies made by the little ones.
Connect with Others:
- Unfortunately, sometimes we can get into the rut of believing that if people want to see us they will seek us out. I guarantee you others think the same way and everyone wants to be included and invited so seek people out. The more you give out the more things will come back to you. They will love it. People love attention, company and talking about themselves so show an interest and get out there! If you get overwhelmed easily (people with autism and ADHD ) give yourself a window. A couple hours is enough, you don’t have to spend the whole day there . Asking questions of others lives , is a sure win for good conversations . Tell me about your trip to Africa ? What was it like living in the Uk as a child ? What are your best memories of working as a …… ? These sorts of questions are great for older family members who often feel left out of conversations with the younger generations .
- If you’re feeling isolated reach out to friends, family, or even colleagues. Attend social events or gatherings to share the holiday spirit. They can be hard to attend when you think about the fact that you don’t know them really well, but it’s the only way to create what you are looking for. We generate the outcomes and opportunities we believe we deserve so a positive outlook and a willingness to try is a self-fulfilling prophecy .
- Consider volunteering; helping others can provide a sense of purpose especially if you are feeling the impact of strained family relationships and break downs. Christmas is often the time when we realise that gaping space that has been created due to conflict and unresolved family issues. Seeing other families get together can be hurtful and there is a element of regret and sadness. We are reminded of what has happened and can feel vulnerable and a little resigned. Being and giving to others who don’t have family and need support can help to ease that burden .
- Take care of your physical and mental well-being. Get enough sleep, eat healthily, and engage in activities you enjoy. This will also help if you are prone to ruminate on the past and what could have been . Finding ways to distract yourself and fill that void where previous family gatherings would have been is important to wellbeing
- Treat yourself to small pleasures, whether it’s a warm bath, a good book, or your favourite movie. Sometimes being your own best friend can be the perfect anecdote !
Create New Traditions:
- If old traditions are causing stress or aren’t feasible, consider creating new ones that better suit your current circumstances. Would a Kris Kringle work better than individual presents for everyone? Meeting at Nans and you don’t like Uncle Joe because he drinks too much? Plan a brekkie or brunch at your place so you can keep it sober!
- Tell family you have other friends/ family to see on the same day.. Drop in a gift, have a quick drink, and move on. Just because they are family doesn’t mean you are forced to spend 3 hours listening to your brother-in-law talk about Wrestling! A few interested catch up questions – How is the family ? How has your year been ? Waht are your plans for 2024 ? That’s all .Hoepfully if they are polite enough they will return the same questions .If not , a great opportunity to play a round of charades or cards with the kids. Dont feel obligated to stay all day.
- Do you always have Christmas lunch at your place? Change it up, get everyone to bring a plate or ask if someone else can host this year. You shouldn’t always have to carry the responsibility of Christmas lunch at your place!
- Minimise contact with those in your extended family who you don’t like .Polite hellos and small talk will suffice. You don’t have to entertain them! Keep it simple and polite and know when to move away from the conversation if it steers to anything outside of “ safe topics “ .
You will not keep everyone happy.Thats a fact . There will be criticisms and people who drain your energy and have high expectations of you. Knowing where your boundaries are and making sure others know that is important .I think Dr Phil’s old saying ” you teach people how to treat you ” is true . Some people will take and take if you allow them . You can be all things to all people all of the time, so don’t put that pressure yourself . Know your limits and stick to it .People will respect you for it ,and if they don’t, well bad luck for them !
Your goal is not to keep everyone happy but to ensure you take care of yourself first and have time and energy for those who do respect you .
- Express Your Feelings:
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed or sad, talk to someone you trust about your emotions. Sharing your feelings can provide relief. Find a good friend to share with or a good counsellor.
- Limit Social Media:
- Social media can create unrealistic expectations. Limit your time on these platforms to avoid unnecessary stress. Not everyone has a fabulous Christmas despite what you read on social media! Those stage photos and happy snaps may hide a wealth of difficulty, pain and obstacles. You never know what other peoples lives are like and they are RARELY perfect .Even when they are , they are only perfect for a moment in time. .Change and challenge is ongoing
- Plan Alone Time:
- If you need a break from festivities, schedule some alone time to recharge. It’s okay to take a step back and focus on your well-being. If you don’t want to attend parties, Christmas carols , or relatives homes that you don’t like , don’t go ! You have a right to establish boundaries that suit your needs .
- Seek Professional Help:
- If you find it difficult to cope, consider talking to a mental health professional. They can provide support and coping strategies tailored to your specific situation.Focus on the positive aspects and try to let go of the idea of a perfect celebration.Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your well-being during the holidays. Everyone’s experience is unique, so find what works best for you and don’t hesitate to ask for support if you need it.
Nadolig Llawen i chi !! ( Welsh for Merry Christmas to you )