Managing Christmas Expectations

I love Christmas, I love the twinkly lights, the excitement of my kids, the anticipation of the John Lewis Christmas commercial, re-watching christmas movies, getting the tree... and this year, finally getting around to decorating it!  However, this time of the year also makes me sad, I miss my Aunt who is no longer here (I did inherit all her incredible Christmas decorations though).  I don't tend to get into town much these days so at this time of the year when I do I become even more aware of our homeless crisis and then struggling with the guilt of all that I have when there are those families that have nothing.  For me even the emotions that run through me watching people coming and going at Dublin airport stirs all sorts of memories!

I watch people trying to 'live' the perfect Christmas (I've been that soldier) and the pressure of choosing the perfect present for everyone can not only lead to overspending and financial pressure but huge emotional stress too.  Family dynamics, in-laws, siblings, social engagements and the need to say 'yes' to everything and everyone can result in unnecessary emotional and physical stress.

There are so many reasons why you may be feeling low or tearful this festive season, and it may feel easier to avoid your feelings or avoid talking about it, but bottling up your emotions only delays dealing with them and often accentuates them.

To help ease some of the stress that comes with Christmas, here are some tips;

  • This year has made me really become aware of the saying ‘be kind, everyone is fighting their own battle’. So the next time you’re trying to get parked in a busy shopping centre because someone is holding up the line of traffic, end up standing in q for ages behind someone who is lost in their own thoughts - take a minute - you have no idea what may have happened to that person that day - they may have lost a loved one, they could be taking a break from visiting a serious ill child in hospital or just lost their job. So breath, smile and remember everyone is fighting their own battle.

  • Spend time with people, especially those who you can open up to and can lift your spirits - chats over the kitchen table with people that lift you up are priceless.

  • Learn to say ‘no’ to social commitments. Fear Of Missing Out is not worth it! Christmas should be a period of rest also, not just a marathon of nights out and boozy dinners.

  • With that in mind start enjoying JOMO - the Joy of Missing Out. Because, really what are you missing?

  • Exercise regularly, and where possible, outside. A simple walk can increase endorphins and help your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

  • Avoid over endulging with alcohol and sugar (as much as possible). The answer is not at the bottom of the bottle or box of chocolates.

  • Put a budget on gifts with friends and family, or agree to not buy presents and treat one another to a coffee or lunch instead - an hour spending time with someone who loves your company is priceless.

  • If you've decided to host dinner ask everyone to take responsibility for bringing one dish. The stress of hosting dinner for lots of people can be a financial struggle and stressful for the cook. Share the load!

  • And remember, breath. Take time out and look at what you have in your life, not on what you don't.

  • If you or anyone you know is struggling please seek help - call a friend and talk it through, see your GP, the Samaritans freecall 116 123.

Siobhan Murray

I’m Siobhan - Resilience Coach, Expert Psychotherapist and Best-Selling Author, and I help women re-ignite their self-worth, build resilience and grow into their full potential.