The festive season

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This time of year is one of celebrations – Yule, Hanukkah and Christmas amongst many others this festive month.  However, the unending “jollity” of the season comes with very specific expectations that can cause stress.

The media often shows very stereotyped “perfect” family celebrations (well, except Eastenders…!) and it’s easy to just accept that’s how things ‘should’ be.  What are your ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’ and ‘perfects’ for the festive period?  Where have they come from?  Are they making you and your loved ones happy, or causing more angst?  What would you like to be different, if you could have anything?  What holds you back from that?

It’s also easy to get swept up in running round after everyone and neglecting ourselves.  This can lead to resentment – or even loss of temper.  There has been a lot of talk lately about “mindfulness” – this is a way of living in the moment and enjoying it for what it is.  Events can be spoiled by ruminating over the past or becoming anxious for the future.  Learning to be mindful does take practice, and you might need to spend time and effort managing your anxieties as well.  A way to start might be to use grounding exercises.  Take a moment to really be in the moment – notice the small things and store the memories.

All the talk of celebrating with loved ones can be very difficult if you are lonely, bereaved or have had bad experiences of the festive season.  You might want to ignore the whole thing and hope it goes away as soon as possible.  This is completely understandable.  If you want to withdraw, or say “no” to something which will make you feel worse, you have every right to do so.  You may be nagged or cajoled, but the choice is entirely yours.  You may, however, find you have a support network who are very willing to be with and help you through.  There are also usually local community events for disadvantaged people over the season, including Christmas Day, who need volunteers if you wish to reach outwards.

Lastly, of course, remember that alcohol is a depressant substance and also a big risk factor in accidents.  Please do take care, and I wish you a very happy (and low-stress) festive season.