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It’s that time of year again, a time for love, peace, family, religion, connecting with one another, over indulging and giving of gifts. It’s a time for children and families, celebrating of the year, celebration of life and hopes and dreams for the future. Christmas is a time for travel, a time for meeting people, parties, barbeques and beach. Christmas is a time for holidays, activities, and rest. Christmas is many things to many different people.
What is Christmas to you?
Christmas can be a time of HIGH expectations! Some years, it is much the same without many noticeable differences but, as life is ever evolving, this means Christmas isn’t always the same. Lives change, relationships evolve or devolve, move, children are born etc. People go to work, have holidays, and buy houses, cars during the year, financial commitments increase or decrease all the while people expect for Christmas to remain the same, to be celebrated the same way it was last year and for many years before.
However, isn’t this an unrealistic expectation?
If everything else in our lives is changing, why do we expect Christmas to be the same each year, celebrated with the same people in the same way at the same place and time etc?
We believe Christmas is going to be perfect, just like on telly with the perfectly decorated tree, the perfectly dressed families, in the perfectly decorated home, with the perfect Christmas turkey.
This is often far from the reality we face and many of us experience disappointment when our expectations for the ‘perfect’ Christmas are not met.
Has anyone really worn a Reindeer jumper watching the snow outside, opened the perfectly wrapped Christmas presents, with everyone perfectly dressed in their pristine attire?
Or, is it more of a case where you wake up, run to the Christmas tree and tear open the presents in your pyjamas with sand in your eyes, hair all over the place, teeth not yet brushed, house a mess from rushing around getting everything done and attending all the essential Christmas parties, hung-over from days and days of partying and heavy drinking, kids running around and fighting with each other and the telly blaring with the kids latest movie or game playing.
Is it really any wonder we feel more than slightly fragile when it comes to the big day???
I think not. And, isn’t it true, when we feel our most fragile, that’s when the toxic people will pounce on us, we will drink too much, we will burn the turkey, the kids will get sick, we will be late for dinner….etc…
So how can we prepare ourselves to enjoy the big day?
How can we ensure we are not too tired, hung-over, drunk, avoid conflict, cook the turkey to perfection while managing the in-laws looks of disapproval?
How can we have the HAPPIEST Christmas ever?
Here’s a step by step approach for surviving and thriving this Christmas!
1. Avoid the last minute shopping! Get whatever you need for Christmas the weekend before – that’s now! If you must shop, do it as early in the morning as you can to avoid the stress of queues and parking hassles. If it is presents for people you are not seeing for a week or so after, wait for after Christmas when the sales are on.
If you don’t know what to buy someone, don’t spend time, worrying about what to buy, a good old fashioned GIFT card is quick easy and requires minimal wrapping.
2. Avoid conflict. Accept the situation. If you can’t be with the ones you love, organise an alternative day out of the next 364 days of the year to get together. Too much pressure is put on to making it on the one day.
Adapt to the evolving family dynamics and relationships. Not everyone is going to get along all of the time (I don’t know one family free of some sort of conflict).
3. Avoid alcohol. You may have done your best to avoid an argument however, all of that can be quickly brought undone when you say how you really feel after a few too many bevvies.
Take it easy and leave the drinking session for when you are with your buddies at the pub sharing your Christmas tales. Try drinking light beer or, low alcohol champagne.
4. Avoid the hangover. Drink plenty of water. All day, every day.
5. Reflect on all the good things in your life. Be thankful for anything you are grateful for. From the smallest thing (the agapanthus are in flower), to bigger things (I am so happy and grateful for the loving and close relationship I have with my partner, husband, wife, children etc.).
What else are you grateful for?
Think of all the things in your life right now you are happy and grateful for. It may be the coffee you are drinking in the morning, the warm water cascading over you in the shower, the smell of aerogard reminding you of your childhood, the warm sun on your skin.
What else, think about as many things as you can?
Where are you now as you read this? Look around; look at the smallest things in your life? Is it your connection to the outside world via the internet, your Facebook community, your family and friends who visit, the neighbours, the new television, a nativity set?
Come on; let’s see how many things you can list each day you are grateful for. I like to start with five things, every day, I am grateful for.
1. Driving. Plan your driving. If you are planning a long journey, plan to get there a day or so earlier to avoid the predictable Christmas traffic jams on the freeways and the stress of spending an extra two hours travelling to your destination.
Also, make sure you have had plenty of sleep and a good meal before taking off in the car, bring a water bottle with you and keep hydrated with fresh air.
Most importantly, do not get behind the wheel after you have been drinking alcohol. Too many lives have been destroyed from idiots drinking and driving. There are no excuses.
Plan how you will travel to and from your destination, get a lift, public transport or stay the night. Make sure you are not over the legal limit the next morning.
2. Love. Think loving thoughts and reflect on all those you love have loved and who love you. Connect with people you haven’t spoken to by ringing them over the Christmas season; they will be so happy to hear from you.
Tell them you love them. Everyone needs to feel loved and to hear the words can make someone’s day, week, month or even, their year! The universe reflects back to you what you focus on.
3. Breathe. Take time to stop, relax and do some slow, deep breathing. Breathe in through your nose as slowly as is comfortable for you and out. Again, as slowly as is comfortable. Repeat. Focus only on your breathing for about 15 minutes (or as long as you can).
When thoughts come into your mind, let them go and return to focusing and concentrating on your breathing. Do this daily! What do you notice?
4. Focus on your HAPPIEST Christmas memories. Make this our happiest Christmas ever.
Try some of my other tips for focusing on happy thoughts: http://freecounsellingaustralia.com/30-day-challenge/your-go-to-happy-place/
Merry Christmas! Have a happy and safe holiday season.