Seven Christmas survival tips
Psychotherapist Beccy Lindsay helps you cope with the tricky issues that can turn the festive season into one you need a holiday from. Here are her seven top tips:
1. It’s OK to be different.
The message from the media and society in general is that there is a right way to do Christmas and that Christmas is compulsory. We may feel under pressure to conform and join the crowd. Tip one is that it is OK to be different. It is a myth that there is a right way to celebrate Christmas or feel about Christmas. We all just find a way.
2. Our lives are not perfect.
Some of us feel our loneliness more at Christmas time if we don’t have lots of invitations from friends or family to spend it with. In this changing world, the image of an ideal family that love to spend Christmas together is not the majority experience. Lucky you if you have that, but many people live alone or have more complicated lives than in sitcoms such as Outnumbered: marriage, children, pets and cuddly grandparents are not necessarily ‘the norm’.
3. People are territorial, especially at Christmas.
Pack or herd behaviour can predominate and relates to our basic instincts. This can be emphasised at Christmas if your family do gather together to celebrate. When for example, siblings fight over who hosts Christmas, the best way to roast potatoes or how long to leave the turkey uncovered in the oven, they may be competing really over who is ‘top dog’ or who has the highest approval ratings with the parents they share.
4. Don’t ‘take the bait’.
It’s usually better to detach and avoid conflict than to win the point. In the end, it is better not to get irritated with the teenage step-daughter who sits reading a book at the table, while everyone around them lends a hand. If you get irritated, others may target you instead. Sensing vulnerability, they may ‘close ranks’ around her, making you look and feel bad.
5. Don’t play ‘who has done the most work?'
If someone feels that they have done too much cooking or slaved disproportionately over the arrangements, they may want you to feel guilty more than they want to be thanked. Say thank you, help serve and clear up if you are allowed to and then put your feet up and make the most of it. Sooner or later your turn to host Christmas will probably come.
6. You can’t conjure up past feelings to order.
Your childhood Christmases may have been magical. If they were, we can’t reliably repeat the past. Feeling magical on Christmas morning might be like feeling romantic on Valentine’s Day. Do what you can to make it enjoyable, but don’t worry too much about your mood perfectly matching the occasion.
7. Christmas is coming... and going.
If you love Christmas, count the days on your advent calendar! If you dread it, count the days and add two: that’s when it will be over.
Wishing you a happy enough Christmas.
Beccy Lindsay is BACP Accredited and offers counselling in South West London, at White Hart Clinic, Barnes Chiropractic Clinic and Richmond Park Clinic. www.counsellingwestlondon.net
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About Beccy Lindsay
Beccy Lindsay is a BACP Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist and Counsellor in private practice in clinics in London SW13 and SW14. Further information at website address: www.counsellingwestlondon.net.