Most of us grow up with perfect ideologies as to how Christmas ‘should’ be. The reality is so different.
It’s definitely not a case of happy families sitting around the fire, playing board games. Not for most, any way.
I used to work for an international charity that runs homeless centres. The residents I worked with often noted that Christmas was one of the most depressing times for them. Some claiming it’s when they used alcohol or drugs to numb the pain.
There’s lots of guilt around Christmas.
We can be guilt-tripped into spending money we don’t have, on presents we don’t need. You end up worrying about who you need to visit and when, so that you don’t upset anyone. You can be guilt-tripped into going out, when all you want to do is stay in.
Cracks in relationships are more obvious over the festive season too, with statistics on divorce showing a spike in January.
So how can you survive the festivities with a smile on your face?
Give up any notion of what Christmas ‘should’ be like.
You’re in control of your life, so make it what you want it to be. If your parents set a tradition that doesn’t work for you, set your own traditions.
Look for win-win solutions.
You can’t be in lots of different places at the same time. Families being families, you’ll always end up upsetting someone too. So, when it comes to family visits, put your needs first. I know this sounds selfish, but so many of my clients ended up miserable at Christmas because they didn’t want to upset a family member. They felt that their own happiness wasn’t important. See if you can work out a win-win situation where you can have your needs met, whilst acknowledging the needs of your family members. Stay strong though and don’t be guilt-tripped into anything that you don’t want to do.
Live in the moment.
We can get bogged down with preparing the Christmas dinner and making sure that everyone is having a great time. When this happens you realise that Christmas went by in a blur, for the wrong reasons. Take time this year to watch your loved ones open their presents. Savour your food and drink. Be grateful for who you’re spending your time with. When you focus on the good things in your life, you get more good things to be grateful for.
Acknowledge your gifts.
I’m not talking about the wrapped gifts under the tree here - I mean your skills and talents. Just five minutes of appreciating you and what you’ve overcome or learned this year can help you realise that things are working out for you. Too many of us rush from one thing to the next and don’t appreciate what we’ve achieved. Use the chill out time that Christmas can bring to see your worth.
If things go a bit topsy-turvy, choose your battles and try to see the situation through the eyes of love. Yes, put those rose-tinted glasses on! You really don’t know what other people are going through, even when they’re family or close friends. If someone says something that upsets you, try to understand that hurt people, hurt people. I don’t want you to be a pushover, but by choosing to let things go and to forgive, you’re actually putting your needs and your happiness first.
Remember, it’s just one day.
Take it moment by moment. If each moment is going well, savour it. If your plans aren’t working out, take a break. Put some music on to change the mood. Go for a nap if you need to! A ‘bad day’ is a collection of many bad moments. You can break up the momentum of these bad moments by focusing your attention on something else. Laughing, listening to your favourite music, getting outside, meditating, taking a nap and counting to 17 are all quick and easy ways to break the momentum and turn things around.
Wishing you all a wonderful and very happy Christmas.
If your child needs help to be happier and confident, my books can help. Check out ‘The Happy Child: Fun Book’, ‘The Happy Teenager: Fun Book’ and ‘The Happy Child: A Little Book of Happiness and Positive Affirmations.’
If you’d like some help, try ‘The Happy Woman: Fun Book’, ‘The Happy Woman: What You Can Learn from Kids, Dogs and Men’ or ‘Your Super Success Journal’.