Tis’ the Season to be Merry! – Christmas Survival Guide
As the Merry Season is upon us, I have written this Christmas Survival Guide with my tips and tricks to enjoy this Christmas as much as possible!
I usually love everything about Christmas but I have no doubt I am not alone when I say that the usual Christmas cheer is a bit harder to muster up this year given the fact that we have spent the past 2 years in survival mode.
If you’re not feeling it don’t beat yourself up, you can only do your best and with this in mind, I have packed in as many tips as possible to help you if not thrive then hopefully survive this Christmas 2021.
What’s it all about?
To me, Christmas is what you make it. What you put into it you get out. Yes it has its materialistic side but don’t lose sight of what it’s really all about.
It is a time of connection, compassion and celebration. It is a time to gather around and spend quality moments with your family and friends (where possible). It is a time to reconnect and reminisce about the year gone by and the years before that.
Whether you are close with your loved ones or loving from afar, Christmas is a time where your family relationships really take the spotlight. It is a time where you may feel extra special and loved or for others it can be a time where toxic family dynamics and family trauma comes to the fore. It can be a time of fun and games or it can be a time of self-medicating or brushing true feelings under the carpet. Whatever your situation is, especially if it is leaning on the more difficult side, just know that you are not alone and that there is support out there.
Tension and confrontation
In my experience, tension in any family is caused by unresolved feelings and/or trauma. You could be stuck in the middle of it or just an innocent bystander. Family dynamics can be a very individual thing and unless your family are excellent communicators, adept truth tellers and master emotional regulators, all family dynamics tend to get messy at some stage.
Nobody likes tension or confrontation but sometimes it can be hard to avoid. If that is the case in your family, here are my best tips to clear the air and avoid needless confrontation.
You may not be the person involved in the tension and if not great, you can pass on these tips to another family member who may be willing to put them into practice.
First of all, you need to evaluate, do you think the person/people you are having tension with would be open to having an honest “clear the air conversation” and is it safe for you to ease your boundaries around this person/people?
No matter what, try to be civil and respectful, anger and resentment adds fuel to the fire. Set the intention that you will not react and instead be calm and compassionate towards these people regardless of how they may have treated you in the past.
Gentle honesty and clear communication – The key here is to not come across in a confrontational, defensive or blaming way. Ask the person would they be willing to have a conversation that may clear the air between you. If they are on board, great and if not you have to respect their boundaries. Begin by asking them how they are and how they are feeling. Ask them their side of the story, be patient and really listen for key elements – feelings and fears. If they don’t mention feelings or fears, repeat back to them what you heard them say and you could add in something like “I imagine when this happened or when this was said, you would have felt hurt or upset” or “when I did this you might have been afraid that this would happen”. Then share your side of the story calmly, gently and honestly without blame. Remember we are empathetic beings and we naturally mirror each others energy.
Take ownership or responsibility if and when appropriate – if you lost your cool, reacted in a way you normally wouldn’t or said something you regret, take ownership of it by apologising and making a firm commitment that you will try your best not to do or say something like that again.
People will follow your lead – if you give them an opportunity to speak while you really listen, understand and empathise, they will try to do the same for you.
In the event of an unavoidable confrontation, re-action is involved and re-action comes from your emotional brain (which we have very little control over), so it is going to be very hard to talk any sense into somebody when they’re reacting to someone or something unconsciously. Let the situation calm down and hopefully whoever is involved will look at the situation with some understanding and reach some common ground. If all else fails, never underestimate the value of a decent exit strategy!!
Loneliness is something that we blissfully ignore until it reaches our door. It can be an exceptionally hard thing to cope with which can be greatly magnified during the Christmas period. Also I may add, you do NOT have to be alone to experience loneliness. It can hit us in a crowded room, full with people. All it takes is a feeling of not being listened to or understood.
My advice here would be don’t sit with your thoughts about being lonely for too long, try to do something about it. Over the Christmas period or any other time for that matter, there are lots of things that you could do.
Re-connect with people you haven’t been in touch with for a while. I love nothing more than hearing from a friend I haven’t spoken to in ages.
Volunteering – help a charity out and meet new people.
Check out Meetup.com – There are lots of great weekly meet ups and activities that welcome new additions to their groups and Meetup.com has everything from book clubs to beliefs to business groups, honestly, give it a go, you won’t regret it!
Talk to somebody who will genuinely listen. It doesn’t even have to be face to face,
The Samaritans are open 24/7 (call 116 123) they are there to listen, they are non-judgemental and they don’t give advice.
Whether it is food or alcohol, it’s never a good idea really is it? Christmas is the one time of year where people feel they have a free pass to over indulge and sadly it catches up on them before long. So here are my top tips –
- Don’t deny yourself anything, do eat everything in moderation.
- Don’t fill your plate up too much, put away the plate when you’re nicely full, not when the button of your pants is about to burst!
- Have a treat here and there but don’t overdo-it, that’s why it’s called a treat, it’s for having the odd time and when you have too much of it, it takes the goodness and value away.
- Exercise. Even if it’s a brisk 10 minute walk. It will get the blood flowing and the metabolism going.
Obviously moderation is the key here. We are a nation of binge drinkers and with age and experience, I have begun to question why that is. I think unconsciously, we (and I am including myself because I was the ultimate binge drinker) drink to excess, first of all because we are chasing that wonderful Merry feeling, second of all to give us that feeling of being free, confident, able to engage in really meaningful conversations with just about anybody and lastly to block out any psychological pain/trauma we may or may not be consciously experiencing at the time. All of these feelings do not last for long and the more we binge, the more we lose our bodily functions, our memory and our dignity. I don’t know about you, but that just ain’t appealing to me anymore.
- Stay hydrated by having a glass of water here and there, it won’t kill you, the Merry feeling will last longer and the hangover won’t be as bad either. I tried and tested this method myself and it works!
- I recently read that in health food shops, you can buy magnesium drops to put in a pint of water and drink it before you go to bed, apparently when you wake up, the hangover will be less severe. I haven’t tried this out though.
- The following day drink lots of water and eat healthy food. The “fry up” may taste good and in theory the “hair of the dog” might look like the best option but you’re only going to suffer worse in the long run. Bad fats are really hard to digest and don’t do the stomach any favours and “the cure” is only going to dehydrate you further.
Above all try to have fun, do eat and be Merry, spend time with your loved ones if you are lucky enough to have them nearby and enjoy the Christmas Cheer.
I hope that this guide will be a help, I try to keep things positive as much as possible in this blog but the reality is life isn’t always easy, it’s how we cope and support ourselves through the tough times is what sees us through to the great times! If you found this helpful, please share this post, hopefully more will benefit…
I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas, thank you for reading and keep an eye out for another post on Christmas day, there will be treats in it for you! If you would like to learn more about the services I offer CLICK HERE and if you are in need of further support, please don’t hesitate to REACH OUT.