For most people, Christmas is a time of joyful preparations and gatherings, but for some, it’s not a time of celebration; it’s one of sadness, loneliness, stress or obligation. My late father used to talk about navigating the tricky road of duty and guilt that can accompany this time of year, mmm… never easy.
All holidays can create time and headspace to contemplate and deal with “stuff”, but Christmas always seems different, and I don’t just mean because it may involve preparing your tax return (✓) or reading people’s round robins! (I love them) Perhaps like me, you are meeting this Christmas and the end of the year, with a mixture of emotions. So much of life is bittersweet; not helped by the human brain negativity bias; our preprogrammed state to keep us safe, can make life tougher than it needs to be, but there has never been an easier time to get informed about our physical and emotional health. For me, the Christmas break offers time to reflect and restore resilience because hibernating until all risk of frost has passed (which is the end of May!) is not a realistic option. What about you?
This what I know:-
- It is possible to make this festive season meaningful even though it may not be the one you planned.
- Accept that this time of the year may be stressful and be gentle on yourself, and kind to others.
- Put the “shoulds” of life on hold and don’t be pressurised into pleasing anyone but yourself (except very small children if you have them in your life)
- On the day plan some ‘time-out’ breaks in case things get intense, burdensome or you need a quiet moment. Go for a walk, take an extended bathroom break, or try a 10-minute breathing meditation, read my blog on the relation response if you would like some guidance.
- If you are managing a loss, find your own way to remember or honour your loved one. Donate a gift to charity in their memory, or light a candle for them at the table.
- Shedding a tear and feeling sad is ok but suffering is unnecessary, reach out and seek help if you are struggling; see below.
- If this doesn’t apply to you, please take a moment to consider that not everyone is welcoming the festive season and some of your friends, colleagues, neighbours and family members may need a little extra compassion and understanding at this time of the year.
I wish you all a peaceful and very merry Christmas; see you on a mat on the other side.
Some of you will know that I have become more involved in mental health education over the last few years and built quite a network of great people over the years. I am happy to make recommendations in total confidence if you need a non-judgmental listening ear or support. In the meantime, for those who are hurting, lonely, bereaved, sad or angry, the organisations at the end of this post may be helpful.
Samaritans – www.samaritans.org.uk / T:116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Cruse Bereavement Care– www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk / T:0844 477 9400
Anxiety UK – www.anxietyuk.org.uk / T:03444 775 774
Shout – https://www.giveusashout.org / Text 85258 24/7