Research tells us that family gatherings are more satisfying when families remove the importance placed on the materialistic aspects of Christmas, (that is, the gifts). Instead, the emphasis should be shifted onto the positive aspects of family and togetherness. The aim of focusing on the presence of Christmas being to engage in “environmentally conscious consumption practices”.
In my own clinical practice, I support an ever growing number of patients who battle suicidal tendencies during what should be the most joyous time of the year – these people feel their most alone and isolated at a time of the year which should be filled with joy.
And then there are the clients who are incredibly stressed out to say ‘yes’ to all of the social engagements. They work themselves into a frenzy to fit everything in, but all they are really doing is stressing themselves out and not enjoying all of the festivities.
Every party and celebratory dinner becomes a chore. And then there is the building dread which comes of inviting family to the obligatory ‘family meal’, which more often than not, isn’t a pleasant experience.
The festive season is filled with our old stuff and patterns and negative reactions triggered by specific family members. Not everyone has joyous fun filled Christmas experiences. Sometimes there are toxic relationships. Sometimes there is alcohol or substances driving toxic or damaging behaviour. Sometimes there is poverty driving trauma based experiences.
As an adult, it’s imperative to remind yourself to approach your feelings as an adult, and acknowledge that the emotions and feelings may be associated with that younger version of you.
And then there is the societal stress of gifting the biggest and the best presents.
Is this really what the festive season has become?
Is it really all about ‘stuff’.
How did we lose our resilience?
From my clinical observations, it’s because we over commit, over spend, over eat and plain and simple over do it – in every aspect of our lives.
From a business perspective, November and December are the busiest time of my clinic year.
Regular clients commence demanding bookings as early as September to ensure they’ve got appointments to defuse arising stress in the lead up to the silly season.
A couple of years ago, I stopped accepting all of the invitations, especially where I had to travel. Instead I limit myself and my family to one event that generally lasts several hours or a day. I ensure that the event will support me to relax and laugh. It needs to replenish my spirit.
For other invitations I negotiate whether I can postpone the ‘catchup’ until the new year, when I’m generally on a break and can devote my undivided attention to the audience.
Often these involve sleep overs, beach visits, bush walks, picnics.
Lots of outdoor exploring, tree hugging, ocean swimming and laughter. I’ve always got the camera to capture the moment – for you never know when that most recent encounter will be your last!
Make it count.
There’s a couple of other strategic things I do. I book self care appointments well in advance. I make sure all of my needs will be met during the busiest of months. I’ve got my own Kinesiology and massage appointments booked. This ensures my body and mind remain super sharp and in ideal working order, whilst working at a busier pace.
If and when feelings of busy, overwhelm or stress arise I treat them like anything else – I breathe and allow the feelings to come and go.
Holding onto old feelings, especially from those who trigger you, doesn’t affect anyone but yourself.
So you’re far better off releasing the negative juju and moving on with joy in your life.
Meditation on a regular and consistent basis is essential to clear the mind, and relax the body.
Journalling is also an exceptional tool to debrief negative Nancy from doing her worst inside your head with all of those negative thoughts.
When it comes to socialising this festive season there’s a couple of basic rules.
Know your limits when it comes to :
- Serving size
- Hydration with water
- Servings of fruit and vegetables
- The number of rich food meals
And finally set your intention of how you want your festive resilience and season to be this year!
My intention is always to experience laughter, love and happiness in all of my encounters.
May your days be merry and bright this festive season as well!