As we approach the 25th December, with increasing pressure from retailers, radio stations blasting merry tunes, TV channels swimming in festive delights, it is no wonder that Christmas-time can induce anxiety and stress in people with concern about meeting others peoples’ expectations – children, partners, family, friends, relatives, work colleagues – as well as having your own met or not.
What does Christmas mean for you? Have you ever stopped to consider this or do you find yourself caught up in following family or other traditions of old? Have you ever mulled over options, discussed your likes and dislikes, or thought about creating something that you want to be part of as opposed to something you feel drawn into?
If the festivities fill you with nothing but joy, bliss and happiness, with little undue anxiety, I imagine it’s unlikely you would be considering counselling. If you are, I suspect that Christmas-time might be fraught with difficulties for you and that you are not feeling happy about the whole experience. If this is the case, then I am writing the following paragraphs with you in mind…
- Firstly, lets focus on YOU. I invite you to think about yourself for a moment in your personal experience of Christmas. It may help to close your eyes and sit quietly for a while as you take time to reflect on this….
- What comes up for you? Are there things you like, things you dislike? Can you write these down? Do these things mean anything for you? What sense do you make of whatever springs to mind ?
- Many people find that their potential enjoyment of Christmas is sabotaged in some way by relationships with food, drink, materialism, celebration, or feelings of obligation in meeting other peoples’ (unknown?) expectations, followed, perhaps, by disappointments, and a difficulty in expressing our wishes?
- I think the celebratory aspect of Christmas can throw our everyday sense of balance and connectedness with others into disarray and I think both of these elements of daily life are very important to each and everyone of us, most days. So I recommend including some of your normal routine into Christmas days, whether that is exercise, listening to music or something on the radio, reading, taking a bath, having a nap, a walk, a chat, something that is known to you and that you find satisfying.
** You could think of this as a gift to yourself, something that is
personally selected and executed with loving care for yourself **
- Secondly, I’d like to ask you to imagine a Christmas that is personally designed by you. It might help to close your eyes again and reflect on this for a few moments (if this was useful before??).
- How would your experience of Christmas be? Maybe it would be helpful to write this down or to draw it out? I wonder what you have imagined and whether you might now want to influence future experiences?
- Many people feel obliged to take part in Christmas celebrations that are out of their personal control however these traditions only persist with collaboration.
- If you are not in agreement and want some changes, then have courage to start gently voicing your views to others, maybe ask for their opinions too and you may be surprised with what you discover. Maybe you can begin to negotiate towards some changes… Whatever the outcome, being more assertive about your views will probably feel empowering, inspire you to explore options and help you to feel better with a fresh perspective.
**Christmas can change if that is what you want
and if that is what you want, then I wish that for you **
If you have found this article engaging and have followed the 2 exercises, then I would be very pleased to receive any feedback that you would like to share with me.