We can all be our own worst enemy at times especially in the build-up to Christmas and put a lot of pressure on ourselves that everything has to be perfect; that we have to cook our favourite recipes because we always do, that we have to have all the traditions in place because we’ve always had them.
We put pressure on ourselves in other ways too – to have everyone around the table in a happy frame of mind when really, it might be more realistic to think
‘how are we going to get through this time as peacefully as possible?’
– given that that’s really what the spirit of Christmas is all about.
This is especially so for people who are in conflict with their family and perhaps dreading Christmas, dreading the fact that they’re going to be around the table all together with a forced kind of happiness expected of everyone. Add alcohol to that potentially toxic mixture and words and actions often spring forth that would be best left unsaid and undone.
Christmas brings up all kinds of emotions and feelings. Some people may be feeling apprehensive if they’re dealing with grief or coming up to an anniversary – whether it’s the first, second or fortieth – knowing that there’s going to be a gaping hole at Christmas that will be sorely felt by everyone. For those of you who are grieving, our hearts go out to you.
3 simple tips
So, what can we do in the lead up to the festive season to minimise the stress we’re feeling and really enjoy this time of year as much as possible? Petrea King writes about the things that help.
1. REMIND YOURSELF OF THINGS THAT REPLENISH AND NOURISH YOU
What are those things that replenish and nourish you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
It may sound selfish to some, however the greatest gift we can give ourselves, our families and community is the gift of our own good physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. If we don’t take responsibility for replenishing ourselves, for ‘fluffing ourselves up’, chances are that someone else will end up having to!
This is particularly important if we have any trauma, confusion, illness, upset or anxiety going on in our lives. The noise and pressure of Christmas can heighten our vulnerabilities and further rattle our sense of fragile calm.
It’s so easy in the busyness of Christmas and festive season with all the accompanying end-of-year celebrations to let our priorities slip down the list. Yet this is the very time that we need to ensure that they’re in place.
If you’ve attended a program at Quest, it’s time to review the list of the things you know will replenish you. If you haven’t attended a program yet, you can make a list of things that are a source of pleasure, replenishment and joy to you.
- exercise, meditation, yoga
- having fresh flowers in the house
- the ritual of lighting candles
- maybe a massage or soaking in a warm bath
- being in the garden
- or staring into the distance and having some solitude and quiet time by yourself.
Whatever it is, identify and remind yourself of what works for you – and then ensure you make time for those things!
I’ve still got my little golden whistler sitting outside singing his little heart out to his love each day. Every day, it’s a source of great pleasure and joy.
Whatever it is that works for you, now’s the time to redouble your efforts to ensure that you’re doing those things in the lead up to Christmas.
2. REMIND YOURSELF OF THE NEGATIVE BEHAVIOURS YOU ENGAGE IN WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED
It’s time to review that other list – all the behaviours you engage in when you’re feeling at the end of your tether. These behaviours really need to be your alarm bells now and not your normal way of living.
If you find that you’re
- avoiding answering the phone or avoiding being with people
- eating not so well or drinking too much
- not sleeping well, for example.
Whatever the little alarm bells are for you, make sure that you’re very aware of them.
Listen to your own body and remind yourself so that you don’t fall into that pothole of going back into that list of things you do when you’re feeling under pressure.
3.MEDITATE EVERY DAY BETWEEN NOW AND CHRISTMAS
If you do a little meditation practice every day between now and Christmas it will ensure that you get through Christmas in a much better way. It may even change your life!
A morning meditation will help you start each day from a place of calm. You’ll find that you will
- accomplish what’s on your ‘to do’ lists far better
- keep your sense of humour intact
- keep your spontaneity intact
- have a certain level of calmness that you’re able to draw on throughout this build up to Christmas.
Try my 8-minute Coming to your senses meditation and see the difference it makes.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by grief, loss, anxiety or depression, our 5-day residential program Healing Your Life can help you find hope, healing and peace of mind.