The holiday season can be challenging for many people, alongside feeling pressure to be joyous or celebratory. It can magnify painful feelings of aloneness, grief, or anxiety and stress. Difficult relationships within families can also be amplified during Christmas time. Below, the Little Window team have put together some tips for navigating this period. If you’re struggling as we approach the end of the year, you are not alone. There are many others also feeling apprehensive about getting through to next year, particularly if there has been a recent loss or change, as well as ongoing complex family dynamics. Here is a gentle reminder that if you are feeling emotional and messy at this time, you are still worthy, loveable and your experience is just as valid and real as others.
We would like to wish everyone a kind and self-compassionate transition into 2019.
Tips for looking after yourself over Christmas:
- If you have the day to yourself, consider planning ahead so loneliness doesn’t creep in. There are many organisations in Brisbane that offer the opportunity to connect with others on Christmas Day – either through sharing a meal or volunteering. Filling your day with all the things you love to do is another option.
- If you have a day of family gatherings, consider whether some planned “time out” during the day might help you to manage any build-up of tension. Focusing on qualities that we do enjoy about family members can also help to defuse family conflict. Give yourself permission to shorten your stay at family events, limit contact with people who you don’t feel emotionally safe around, or avoid attending these gatherings all together if this is in your best interests and will protect you from experiencing depletion or further distress.
- Try to set realistic expectations of the holiday period – often we develop a “story book” image of what Christmas might be like, which sets us up for disappointment when the day doesn’t turn out quite as we expected. Know that things might not go to plan and other people don’t always behave the way we want them to, and that this is okay!
- Learn to say no – and mean it! At this time of the year the demands that are made of us can often be unrealistic. Practice sitting with the discomfort of saying no, be aware of your own needs, watch your judging internal chatter and treat yourself kindly.
- Financial strain can play a big part in experiencing stress around Christmas time. The chaos of shopping centres and trying to find the right gift for people can be taxing. Take some time to consider how you could give a more meaningful present that does not necessarily involve spending a lot of money. For example, baking some treats, potting a plant, printing some photos of special memories, or gifting an experience can be lovely ways to give without needing to step foot into the shops!
- Take a moment here and there to slow down. You can mindfully slow down your breathing, your talking, and even how fast you’re walking if you notice yourself feeling rushed or stressed. With this being a frantic time of year for many people, engaging in simple steps to slow down will help give you moments of pause and rest.
- This time of the year can be really difficult for those that have lost a loved one. Allow yourself some time to feel sad and think about the person you loved. Share memories of them with others, think about visiting the cemetery or another special place or write them a letter. Accept this could be a tough time and give yourself permission to grieve and take care of yourself.
- Increase your acts of self-care during Christmas time. Energy levels are low, stress levels are high, calendars can be busy and full, and there is pressure to ‘wrap up the year’ which can add a lot more to our task lists. Engage in grounding activities that nourish the nervous system, such as cuddling a pet, going for a walk in nature, having a bath, getting to bed early, or listening to soothing music.