The Christmas time is coming and we hear all about how merry and jolly this time is for the world. We watch advertisements that show families together, laughing and exchanging presents. We watch movies showing Christmas happy endings. However, this time awakes many feelings that are not really in line with a popular view of Christmas. The family-centric season can bring difficult memories and painful awareness of conflicts within a family or remind an absence of this unit. An empty place around a table can be a painful reality for people in grief. Re-organization of Christmas “on two houses” can be a reminder of a divorce. A constant cheer-orientation in songs, TV etc can be felt as a pressure to feel jolly for people with depression. A “good enough” gift searching can be anxiety provoking not mentioning crowds around this time. Psychotherapy sessions increase during December rapidly, family matters emerge with a higher intensity – it is not a merry time for everyone. And studies seem to confirm a trend – the European Social Survey found out that people experience lower emotional well-being at Christmas.
How to survive this time of the year? Some people pressure themselves and spend a few hours with their family of origin even if they don’t feel like and after a dinner they are gone. Some self isolate which can increase a level of depression and anxiety in particular that since March we are mostly facing the lockdown measures of separation and keeping a distance. Yet, to give a few tips, all is in an attitude that is based on our ability do detach from a message of joy and family or how Christmas SHOULD look like. You can re-write your Christmas and create a plan that will become yr little celebration. SHOULDS are toxic and they say that there is only one right way of doing things. That is of course not true. For people who do not feel like spending time with a family of origin it is not really necessary. There is no pressure. Your family can be your pet, your friends and also….a peace of mind. If you are able to go for at least a dinner, do so, and plan your Christmas time afterwards somewhere else. For those who do not keep in touch with their family, also create a plan of self celebration. Spoil yourself then, cook your favorite food and watch favorite movies. Catching up with friends after dinner, if you only share with them this need, can happen. No, do not think that you don’t want to bother them, they have their own family etc. If you consider them close you are their family too and that day will show it. For those with depression the tips would be the same as above plus allowing themselves to not follow a mainstream message. Challenge this message in your head, catch a distance – being different because you have different needs at that moment is not a bad thing. Allow yourself to be yourself and plan a spoiling day. For grieving people, yes….it is a difficult one. Yet, please try to reshape your relationship with your lost one(s) and bring new tradition to a table. Put decorations that remind you a person, recall some memories of a time together…. I understand that it could be difficult to forget about a fact of absence, but don’t forget that this person was writing yourself in your psyche and left there all what is needed to feel her/him/them at least to some extend. Not all is lost, we always leave a part of us in others. For those divorced, yes, things changed, but who said new cant be good either? Lets not stick to the one and only way of how Christmas supposed to look like. Being together is also being with yourself together so if there are two houses, the time is yours.
Those are few points for you to remember during the Christmas:
– distance yourself from one message that includes “should” about Christmas, tell yourself that if that is about feelings of joy so you will create it the way it will give you a joy,
– note few things you are grateful for during that time, a peace of mind, warmth of your house, access to movies, food on a table,
– spoil yourself, cook your fav food, prepare comfortable cosy place to read or watch, light a candle,
– meet up with friends during or after dinner, do not hide your position from friends, I am sure you would want to know if someone you like needs to be specially cared about this time, allow others to be the givers during this time, it is not that you are asking them to cut their hand and give it you ;-),
– watch your self dialogue, your mind is listening, focus on what you have, not on what you don’t, there is 365(6) days in a year. That is just another day…
Have a good time during a break, whatever you decide to do, do it for yourself, not tradition!