The festive season can be difficult for many people. Plans are being made for the holiday season and whilst some of us spend time looking forward to them there are others of us who dread the question “What are you doing for Christmas?”
Expectations are high, but if we are honest maybe more than a few of us are not looking forward to the upcoming holiday period, especially family gatherings.
Are you or is someone you know:
- living alone
- in an unhappy relationship
- a single parent
- recovering from a breakup
- feel like your family doesn’t understand you?
These feelings are actually more common than we think and can be exacerbated at family celebrations.
Things We Can Do
We can start by allowing ourselves to become aware of how we feel. This is always the first step to change. This may take some time, especially for those of us who find getting in touch with our feelings difficult, but once we know how we feel we can do something about it.
Maybe we are currently suffering from:
- social anxiety
- feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
- feeling sad and not wanting to face people
The next step is to work out what we really want to do. Do we want to go to the celebration? Or would we actually rather avoid it altogether?
If we don’t want to go at all, then can we work out why we want to avoid it?
For example: are we dreading the family celebrations because we don’t like some members of the family? If so would it be possible to talk to the person concerned about how they may have hurt us?
Or can we find a way to manage the situation so that we feel more comfortable? Maybe going for a shorter amount of time or taking someone else with us. Could we be strategic and spend as little time as possible near the people we find challenging?
If we have worked out that we really cannot bear to go at all, then having the courage to make the decision and tell others is the hard part. Especially if this is going to involve a break from the usual routine.
However, if we feel we are acting with integrity and choosing to do something different for our own mental health, then we need to have the courage of our convictions and tell others our plans and stick to them.
Our new plan does not need to be climbing Kilimanjaro, it could be helping others less fortunate than ourselves eg volunteering at the local homeless project. Or organising a friends’ Christmas day for others who may also be struggling with what to do.
The objective is to feel ok with who we are and what we do over the festive period. To strike a balance between doing what we want to do and doing what others want us to do. Our time off is precious and we need to be true to ourselves and honest about what we want to do and with whom we wish to do it.