In reality, it’s likely there will be relationship tensions, financial constraints, and probably some level of anxiety. This is normal. It’s important to keep expectations realistic. A good way to do this is to avoid trying to recreate previous Christmases or images you may have in your head. Instead step into Christmas with no prior expectation of what it will or won’t be – you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by what comes along.
Remember that you’re not alone in feeling extra pressures at this time of year. The chances are others around you are feeling the same way. Here are a few tips to help you survive the festive season:
1. Help out the ones in need
If you find this time of year lonely, reach out to others who might be even lonelier – volunteering at a shelter or a charity over Christmas is a great way to help others and meet new people; or you could attend a local community event run by a church or a social group. Even being around others for just a few hours can make a huge difference to your wellbeing and mood.
2. Scale back on presents
Everyone feels the financial hit of buying presents, extra food, drinks and entertaining, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask guests to bring along a dish, run a ‘secret Santa’ among friends and family, and set an upper limit on the price of presents. Don’t forget – handmade gifts are often more appreciated and long-lasting than the latest new gadget.
3. Keep the mood light
All families will experience some kind of tension over the festive period, it’s normal. It’s important to keep expectations realistic. Think of some activities to keep the mood light – games and outdoor activities often help to reduce strain. Letting people feel like they have choices over what they do on Christmas day also helps to reduce arguments.
4. Keep alcohol levels in check
Alcohol magnifies emotions – whether it be sadness, anger, irritability or excitement. This means it’s often a catalyst to arguments. Keep your alcohol intake under control, particularly on the couple of days around Christmas when stress levels and tensions are typically at their highest.
5. Make time for some ‘me’ time
Finally - take time out to yourself. Don’t feel guilty about going off for a walk by yourself, doing some exercise and taking yourself off to read a book in peace for an hour or so. It’s important to relax, regain balance and prepare for the new year in a peaceful frame of mind.
Written by Ruth Tongue