For me, this Christmas holiday will be special. It will be our first with our new little granddaughter. She won’t be big enough to know what is happening but she will pick up on the positive energy of people who love her and the happiness and excitement around her. She is lucky and so are we. But last night as our TV viewing was constantly interspersed with Christmas adverts, I did start thinking about people who may be dreading this festive period.
In my country this Christmas holiday, along with other big national festivals across the world, can be depressing experiences for many people. Sometimes they were for me. I remember well that lonely feeling of being surrounded by happy and excited people, while my own mood was very blue.
Serious real life stresses such as poverty, threatening health issues, bereavement and family break-ups become highlighted during the festivities. These unfortunately may just have to be lived through as comfortably as possible. But many people do also give themselves an unnecessary dose of Christmas blues. Bad personal habits such as procrastination, over-spending, perfectionism, mismanagement of feelings and not asking for help can also make it very difficult to enjoy the festive fun.
Our challenge this month is make some serious plans that will help us prevent such self-defeating behaviour. Below are just a few examples of common self-imposed stresses and the kind of preventative action that could be taken this month to alleviate them. I hope these will act as a useful guide when writing out your own plans. You will notice I have included one example of someone who has been recently bereaved. This is because bad habits can of course make living though seriously difficult times even more challenging.
‘I will be worrying about the money as I often over-spend.’
- I will make a list of all the specific extra expenses and give myself an overall budget.
- After first doing some research in the shops or on the internet, I will apportion an appropriate amount for each individual present and make sure the total does not exceed the amount I allowed in my budget.
- I will keep this budget and present list with me at all times up until Christmas day.
- To stop myself going into debt, I will pay by cash and leave my cards at home
‘By Christmas I am always too shattered to enjoy it.’
- I will programme in serious relaxation time for two short periods per day from now on
- I will delegate more than usual
- I will take shortcuts such as internet and local shopping whenever possible.
- I will set a reasonable time to leave evening events and ask my partner or a friend to check that I do as I say
- I will check my diet is extra nutritious and set a strict limit for my alcohol intake
- I will remember that an enjoyable Christmas does not have to be a perfect one.
‘I will feel lonely even though I will be with lots of people. I am not close to my family and the other people I have to spend time with.’
- I will be more assertive and have acceptable excuses ready for taking time-out.
- I will write a list of some special treats that I can do on my own, such as having a luxury snack and drink, a walk in a favourite place, download a movie or TV series with familiar actors you know and enjoy, buy or download an easy-to-read and gripping novel
- I will ring around to see if any of my friends would appreciate a chat during that time too. We could then arrange to talk on the phone or Skype or meet up.
- I could offer to do some voluntary visiting in a local hospital or care home. This would be an interesting way of meeting different people. (Note: I may need first to organise references or a police check so I need to start ringing around NOW!)
‘Someone close to me has recently died. I will try to push my grief inside and act happy, but I fear it may burst out and ruin Christmas for others.’
- Instead of trying to not think about her/him, I will recall, and talk about the happy times we enjoyed when celebrating together. I will make sure I have some photos to help me remember at hand
- I will meet or ring ……….. [names], because I know they will give me comfort and help get me back on track
- I will give myself time-out to quietly feel or express my feelings. I will rest and then give myself a comforting treat such as ………….
Good luck with your festive preparations. Please don’t forget to look after yourself and pass on this Confidence Challenge to anyone you think it could help.
Please do add any comments and tips below