For many of us, Christmas is a mixed bag of pleasure and pain. The celebrations, gift giving and wonderful food seem to coincide with an onslaught of emotional baggage, stress and anxiety.
If you experienced a sense of dread last Sunday when we officially entered this festive month – you are not alone. This year however, why not think about coming at the holiday with a different approach? Relaxing your expectations and cultivating gratitude can help you to survive (and even thrive!) during those typically stress-filled weeks leading up to Christmas.
Let go of your expectations
If you are expecting the worst this year, start off by entertaining the notion that it probably won’t be as bad as you’re building it up to be. Think about all those times you’ve dreaded an event/task/day only to find it wasn’t as bad as you thought at all. By assuming the worst, you are setting yourself up to be miserable – even when the reality isn’t that bad.
Equally, it is helpful to be realistic. Expecting the holiday to be full of nothing but serenity and joy could set you up for disappointment. The best thing to do is let go of your expectations (good and bad) and to simply let events unfold. You’ll find the holiday much more manageable if you can develop a sense of humour and laugh off any perceived ‘disasters’.
We know it is easier said than done, but by changing the way you view the festive season you can help yourself to enjoy it to the fullest. Cultivating gratitude has been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve relationships and even promote your physical health.
So next time you feel the urge to storm off shouting “Christmas is cancelled!” try to think about what you’re grateful for. This could include:
- Your family. Even if certain members drive you crazy, think about those who have always been there for you.
- Friends. These are the people you choose to have in your life and who choose to be in yours, so take a few moments to be thankful for that.
- An abundance of food. No matter how many turkey-disasters you’ve encountered in the past, try to be thankful that you can enjoy such an indulgent meal.
- A roof over your head. It’s going to be a cold Christmas for thousands sleeping rough this year.
- Your health. A present that can’t be bought or returned, it is something to be treasured.