by Ania Tylunas, psychotherapist
Christmas can be the most wonderful or the most dreaded time of the year. For every Noel-excited person out there, we have somebody who is apprehensive about being alone, falling out with family or not meeting expectations. So here are a few tips on how to avoid common Festive Season pitfalls.
Alone at Christmas? No problem!
The first thing to decide is whether you like spending time in your own company at this time of year. If so, seize the opportunity to make an effort JUST FOR YOU. Don’t be afraid to indulge a little. Bubbly for breakfast and watching a box-set of your favourite programme while pausing for another helping of favourite food? Why not? This is your opportunity to do something you love, guilt-free.
If you would rather not be alone, check who else you know might be in the same situation. Or consider volunteering with one of the local charities organising festive events. This can be a hugely rewarding way of connecting with people, making a difference to others while making your Christmas meaningful in a new way.
To pre-empt any potential conflict, have a family meeting and decide together how you are going to choose different aspects to take charge of. This way everybody feels included and involved. For the perfectionists out there- you may need to let go just a tad (a very good exercise indeed!).
While talking, check out how you are all feeling about various traditions you observe. Look at them with fresh eyes and don’t be afraid to modify or let go of the ones that don’t work any more. Be creative and form your own family traditions, something that might become unique just to you.
One for keeping up with the Joneses
Quite simply - DO NOT. We are saturated with adverts, contributing to unrealistic expectations of what sort of time we should be having. If in doubt, go for lasting value rather than momentary satisfaction. So even the best-chosen present will not give your child, parent, partner or friend as much as the gift of your time, love and attention.
And when all is said and done, it is this gift and its legacy that will stay with the people you care about forever, not just this Christmas.
Wishing you a very merry, loving and stress-free Christmas!