Are you feeling jolly or jaded?

Staying sane, calm and focussed during the run up to the Christmas festivities can be really challenging can’t it?

We are bombarded by media images of perfect families and relationships along with the constant prompting to buy this or that as it will ‘make our Christmas perfect!’. It’s no wonder stress can take a hold on us.

Financial stressors can be huge too or perhaps it’s the friend or relative who always has too much to drink and causes trouble.

Perhaps this is the first lone Christmas or there’s a feeling of needing to put a brave face on your current, troubled relationship. It can be a minefield!!

The pressure is on to join in with various social events and mix with people we really aren’t that keen on. We’re often expected to spend time with our families which can trigger a whole plethora of emotions and feelings.

So whatever your situation, here are a few tips to try to help you support yourself and come out the other side!

1. Don’t forget your self care

When we’re busy it’s so easy for all our good intentions to fly out the window. Try to take some exercise daily, even if it’s just a short walk or some deep stretches. Remember your deep breathing, focussing on your breath helps you clear your mind and stay calm. Use some tapping on the stresses that show up for you. Stay hydrated. Our bodies need us to drink plenty of water especially if we’re flying any where or spending time in overheated shops. Staying hydrated helps our bodies cope with alcohol consumption too.

2. Just say “no”

It’s not compulsory to accept every invitation or answer every request for help. It’s NOT selfish to preserve your energy for the things you really want to do. Whilst the holiday season is a great time to get together with others you don’t have to feel obliged to say yes to things you’d rather not do. Be kind to yourself, try and avoid overstretching yourself, both emotionally and physically.

Let go of feeling the pressure to buy expensive gifts for others, putting yourself under financial pressure. This really is a case of ‘it’s the thought that counts’. Small gifts that have real love and thought put into them are so lovely to receive.

Choose who you spend time with, don’t be bullied into attending yet another dysfunctional family gathering; you could always create your own gathering or maybe volunteer and spend time in the company of people for whom your presence would mean so much.

Just because, in previous years, various traditions have been observed, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create a whole new way for you to spend the season.

3. Remember your support system

If you have people who you turn to for help and support throughout the year make sure you stay connected to them. If you usually Skype or see them in person be sure to exchange numbers so that you will each have someone to turn to should you need to.

4. Plan

If you’re travelling ensure you’re clear on your route and the times of public transport etc. This can help take the stress out of a journey. Ensure those you’re travelling to visit have your mobile number and know the time you were expecting to leave home and then arrive with them. Carry some cash as well as payment cards and have a healthy snack and some water in case of delays. If your blood sugar drops stress can take hold.

5. Have realistic expectations

So many of us have such high expectations as to how Christmas ‘should’ be that if anything doesn’t go according to plan it can feel like a catastrophe.

When your dealing with such an emotionally charged time of the year it’s almost a given that things won’t go according to plan and that’s okay! Try to see the humour in any hiccups, relax and know that in the bigger scheme of things, hiccups happen, plans change and it just isn’t like the ads we see on the television (thank goodness).

Relax and breathe and know that this time will pass and very shortly we will be welcoming in a new year that can be full of all sorts of wonderful opportunities, fresh starts and hope.

Having realistic expectations will help you avoid that empty, let down feeling when the celebrations have passed.

Photo credit: AshtonPal via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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