In the midst of the celebrations and holidays, whether religious or otherwise, I hope that you have had the opportunity for good times spent with people you love and care about. Unfortunately for some people Christmas will have meant a host of family arguments, relationship problems, disappointments, painful memories, losses and grief.
Stress at Christmas
There is a tremendous amount of expectation put on us at this time of year. Expectations about spending time with people that we might actually not get on that well with for the rest of the year. Along with eating too much, possibly drinking too much and spending too much money. It undoubtedly can be one of the most stressful times of the year – Christmas stress. As a therapist I have spent several weeks in the run up to December 25th talking to many of my clients about Christmas. How they were feeling about it. What meaning did they attach to the event. Were they having the kind of Christmas they wanted? Or were they under pressure to meet other’s needs. How they might take care of themselves in the face of spending time with people where relationships might be difficult. Or deal with painful memories of events or of loved ones who are no longer here.
Improve your life
I’m also expecting an influx of calls following Christmas as many people reach the point of “this can’t carry on.” This is often the result of a miserable few days spending an intense amount of time perhaps with a partner or family member where things are not going well at all. Where with the stress of Christmas all the problems in the relationship become heightened.
I invite you to give yourself permission to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. This might begin by not adding extra pressure by thinking “but it’s Christmas, everything should be different.” Although Christmas is heralded as a time of year of goodwill, for some people in some situations that is not feasible or even desirable. If you need to do something different with your situation to improve your life then please don’t let the time of year stop you from taking action to change your situation.
It might also might mean contacting someone you’ve not been in touch with for a long time. Telling someone something important. Deciding not to spend next Christmas with family. Seeking out counselling for help with a relationship problem.
These last few days at the end of December can be lovely; with time for resting, celebrating in ways that are healthy and enjoyable, being with people you love and who love you. Making meaning and finding ways to mark the changing of the seasons and the time of year that aligns with your beliefs and values. If that hasn’t been your experience this year my encouragement to you is to reflect how you might have this for yourself next year.
Seasons Greetings and Best Wishes for 2016