Surviving Christmas

Christmas for some people can be a really difficult time and so I thought I’d give a few thoughts about how you might look after yourself.

Whilst Christmas is for a lot of people a reminder and a celebration of family, it is also a reminder of people we’ve lost and miss terribly.  If this is the case for you then it’s ok to feel sad, don’t push away any of these upsetting feelings.  Pushing them away only means they’ll come back later. If it’s possible, talk to others about how you’re feeling. Alternatively, you could call The Samaritans (08457 90 90 90) who offer a listening service.

If you’re going to be spending time with family who you don’t get on with too well, or who upset/annoy/irritate you, or all of the above, but you don’t have any choice about going, then think about how you want your Christmas to be given that they are there. Are there things you can do that means you don’t have to be with them for too long? Can you seek out someone who you do get on with and have a nice time with them? Can you help out in the kitchen, find a job to do? If you can’t do any of these things, what could you say to yourself if this person starts upsetting you? Is this new behaviour from this person, or are they just doing what they normally do? If it is just the same things they’re saying then might you remind yourself that this is what they usually do. They too may well be really missing someone and are confusing sadness (grief) with irritation which is unfortunately directed at you.

This is not your fault. Emotions are powerful things and can lead us into all sorts of tricky places. If you can, notice how you’re feeling, “I’m sad/anxious/angry” and sit with that feeling without doing anything else except naming it. If we graze our knee we experience pain. This is our body’s way of telling us something is not right and we need to do something about it. Our emotions are the same: they are giving us information about ourselves that we need to attend to something. Naming how you feel rather than pushing it away is the first thing you can do. I’d encourage you just to try this and see what happens.

It’s ok to think about what’s important for you rather than trying to please everyone else. The unintended consequence of doing this is that you end up resenting people and your needs don’t get met. No one deserves this.

So, I encourage you to think how you want your day to be, how you might compromise, how you might let comments slide over you so you can get some enjoyment. And don’t forget, the day will end.

Wishing everyone a peaceful time over the holiday period.