Surviving Christmas

‘ A hang-over is nature’s way of telling you not to do it again. So being human, you’ll go out and do it again’ ((17/24/31 December 2016 New scientist 63)

For those for whom getting through christmas is a struggle, here are a few helpful tips.

1 Learning patience and kindness.

Lack of familiar daily routine, combined with relatives you never see, confined in one location with alcohol freely available, yes, that is for some a recipe for hell. Arguments, old recriminations, and remembering the past can all surface at christmas time. You can indulge yourself in negative thinking before the event, or this year make a little resolution to be patient and kindly to relatives you can’t stand.  Try one or two unsolicited acts of kindness towards them.  Without telling them you are doing it. Without excepting a reward.  See how they react. If things get too hot in the kitchen or elsewhere go for a walk on your own and cool off. Talk to a relative you do get on with if there is one.Think to yourself this is not for all time and focus on having fun. Avoid bringing up contentious issues around christmas when you have had a few too many to drink or if you have taken drugs.

2 If you are in a situation where you or your children’s personal safety are at risk, leave the situation. Better still do not be in it to begin with. However, things are often more complicated than that, so use your common sense.

3 If you are on your own at christmas, know that there are others too who are feeling the same. Remember you can be alone, but, you don’t need to feel lonely. Don’t isolate fully, see if you can speak on the phone with someone on the day.  Or indulge yourself in something that you enjoy a  programme, music or reading. If you are ill, on your own take these words and know that others are in the same place all over the world.  Some are even worse than you.  This day(s) will pass. How you think is the biggest influence on your mood and perception.

4 Don’t pressurise yourself to be the perfect host, the perfect present-giver, think that these few days are precious because they will not come again. And that there are people around the world without homes, medical care, in war torn countries who have no presents, no country.  Yes, depressing, but its reality.  Be grateful for what and who is in your life.

5 Take some time ‘out’ for a walk in nature, sit quietly and review the year.  Say  something like this  yourself, another year has passed, I have achieved much by just being me. I may always want more, to achieve more, to be a better person, but right here right now, I accept myself for all that I am.  I am not my job, my relationships, my finances, my failures, my successes. I have value, I choose to be kind to myself. Whatever the future holds or the past has shown, I am in this present moment.  I love and am loved. I just focus on this moment, what is around me. The  thoughts in my mind begin to settle and I let go, thoughts come and go like clouds, I give them space. I sit as long as I can letting thoughts go by and maybe I will just have moments without thoughts. A spaciousness may fall over you and you will feel peaceful. Equally It doesn’t matter if none of this happens!

6 This time of year you may set your intentions for change, but, try not to make unreasonable dramatic promises to yourself to change long standing issues in ONE go especially at the turn of the year. Write down what you might need to change, how you can go about this gradually.  What support do you need?.  How can you get this support?  What extra knowledge might you need to accomplish this?  Write down a plan and stick to it, but, be flexible and at the same time not too hard on yourself. Tell a trusted friend about your plan to change and hand them a copy of your plan. As 2017 unfolds check in with them and talk about how this plan is going.

7 If you wish to change an addiction or give up something unhealthy seek professional advice( a doctor, a psychotherapist, a life coach, a nutritionist et al) and get the support of friends.  Ask yourself how much am I am ready to do this change?  Is it the right time? Do I need to? Do I have the resources? If not rethink and re-plan. Sudden unrealistic change can lead to more frustration and feelings of failure. Thereby setting yourself up for more failure and guilt. Little by little, step by step work out a plan that is manageable with support. We are all different, so much of this is down to your own common sense. It is ok to learn by mistakes as well. Failure is not the end of the world.

There are a wealth of therapists who may be able to help you with change. Whether its lifestyle, career, and or health matters. Investigate, research, ask around what has worked for others and make a plan to get support.  It doesn’t need to be expensive either.

If you need any further advice on the matters raised please contact me, Peter here

Remember if things really get bad you can call the SAMARITANS on their new freephone number 116 123

Wishing you a peaceful and joyful Christmas and Happy Prosperous New Year!