If you believe what our childhood movies taught us, every time a bell rings an angel gets it wings, and Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Well, believe it or not, there are many people who actually dread Christmas.
Not wanting to put a negative spin on the festivities, but Christmas is not all it’s cracked up to be for many people. It’s seen as not only one of the busiest and overwhelming times of the year, but the cause of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Many people simply don’t look forward to it, and plans for taking off on a plane far away from it all is seen as a more attractive option than going through the pains of the day.
So if we ‘should’ be getting excited about the festive season, how could there be a portion of us who would happily sleep through the whole thing if we could? Apart from the extra demands that Christmas places on us, like financial pressures, end of year events, present buying and food preparations on top of our normal workload, it’s actually other people in our lives that create the majority of stress.
Contrary to the cursive writing in your Christmas cards, Christmas time is not all about happiness, peace and joy with other people in your life. In fact, it’s a trigger time of grief, loneliness and a host of negative emotions for many. Anger, frustration, sadness, resentment and regret are opened like an old wound. Family conflict is rife, broken families struggle and then on top of this is individual ‘beliefs’ about what Christmas ‘should’ look like, which of course, is different for everyone. Not attending the main Christmas lunch on Christmas Day could lead to a years worth of passive aggression from your mum.
Christmas expects so much of us, and most of us reluctantly go along with it without a second thought. Often not stopping to think that we can actually change it up a bit if we wanted to.
So if you are struggling with the thought of Christmas this year there are a few things that you can do to make it enjoyable, or at the very least, bearable.
Manage The Expectations: Individual family members have different expectations of Christmas and it’s often impossible to please everyone. Put some boundaries firmly in place, so that the day can work for you and most people will understand. If they don’t, then that’s on them to manage.
Make A Change: Traditions can actually be changed at any time, and it just takes one brave soul in a family to start a new one. Be that person and you can make new traditions that can fit in with your own life personally, and then choose the people that you want to be a part of it. Even if it’s just you and your dog.
Figure Out What’s Important: Festivities can get rather large, and you can find yourself at gatherings you didn’t really want to be at. Scale it back and choose what actually what to go to, rather than what you habitually attend. Saying no and doing something that is important to you first and foremost is empowering.
Find Meaning: If we just look at the TV during the festive season it kind of looks like Christmas is all about presents, but that’s certainly not what Christmas is really about. Once we tap into that meaning behind Christmas for us personally, then you can focus on that rather that the consumerist aspect that often puts too much pressure on us.
Don’t Compare: Don’t compare your Christmas with what others are doing. You never get the whole story anyway, so it’s not a valid comparison.
Look After Yourself: If you tend to habitually get busy during Christmas, make sure you are proactive in inserting some time to relax and recharge throughout it. Being burned out and frazzled during Christmas is not conducive to an enjoyable day.
Do What Makes You Happy: Be mindful of what YOU like to do at this time of year, not what is expected of you. It might be serving nachos and beer at the family table, or flying to Bali to miss the whole thing. What would you do at Christmas if there were no one to stop you? This will give you a clear hint of what you truly want to do.
Whilst everybody else on your social media news feed talks about feeling blessed with their perfect families and matching Christmas tree bobbles, there is an equal amount of people feeling pretty miserable.
Knowing that you are not alone in feeling like this is always helpful, and allows you not to judge yourself too harshly when you’re tempted to hide under your bed covers until Boxing Day. Once you realize you don’t have to do what your Christmas’s of the past expect of you, a new found freedom will come over you to create a better one.
Who really wants to eat turkey on a hot day anyway?