Yep, there's no stopping it - like a train without any stations to stop at, the lead up to Christmas is thundering along, gathering momentum and speed and whether you celebrate it or not, there seems like no escape.
So, how's this left you feeling? (feel free to delete as applicable)
- There's not enough time in the day.
- I should be writing cards.
- I haven't even begun to think about shopping for pressies.
- I'm not looking forward to spending time with X but I feel I ought to.
- How can I be in two places at once?
- This is the first Christmas without a person I love and I'm dreading it.
- I'd really like to take some time out for me, but I feel guilty if I do.
- I'm worried about the cost of it all.
- I don't want to see all the happy family adverts on TV - it doesn't feel real to me.
I'm sure there are more you can add (go ahead!) but maybe it's also worth thinking about what you can actually do about all these negatives.
Which ones can you actually do something about? If the answer is hardly any, then perhaps you can ask yourself why you put yourself under this much pressure? What could make it better for you? If you've lost a loved one, it's likely to be difficult - this one may be hard so allow yourself to grieve too, getting support from where you need it.
It's so easy to get caught up in a whirlpool of consumerism and marketing-led pressure, but the good news is you do have a choice, so, if you want your own personal "train" to stop, I invite you to stand up, find that emergency handle and pull hard to stop it. Disembark, find a nice quiet spot nearby and take some good deep breaths.
Look at the view, savour the scenery and then, when you're ready, focus on what's important to you, not what the ad-men have dreamt up or peer pressure dictates you "ought" to be doing - just what is really you.
I hope you enjoy the festive season - but on your terms.
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About Una Cavanagh
Una Cavanagh is a counsellor in private practice in North Wiltshire