I LOVE Christmas. Like seriously, I love it so much I actually have a Christmas tattoo on my foot to keep the Spirit of it with me all year round… But even I accept that at times the Christmas season can be bloody difficult.
The busy social calendar; the encouragement to spend more, drink more and eat more than you usually would; the time with people you haven’t seen for months previously and the pressure to feel happy and positive no matter what else is going on your life – it’s not necessarily a recipe for feeling merry and bright!
So what can you do to stay in your power this Christmas? Well, as someone who’s been there on many a time, and often learned these lessons the hard way, here are my top five tips…
1. Set your boundaries
So often the problem with Christmas is the feeling that we have to overdo it with everything, and that nothing is off the table. So why not get those things off the table right away.
Whether it’s the amount of time you’re going to spend out of the house, what you’re going to eat, how much you’re going to drink, the Christmas party goers you want to be kept away from, or the family conversations you plan to avoid start the festive season by setting yourself some boundaries and limits.
Now that’s not to say that your boundaries can’t be a little more relaxed than they usually are; nor that you should beat yourself up if the next few weeks stray a little outside of the limits you’d set for yourself – if you’re having fun and whatever you’re doing is coming for a place of feeling positive and in your power then there’s no harm in going easier on yourself. But it’s that feeling of positivity and comfort that we’re aiming for…
So set your boundaries before the point of a diary that’ll drain you, a meal that will leave you feeling sick, a night out you’ll pay for for the next week, an ill-advised snog under the mistletoe with the person you’ve been avoiding all year, or that one discussion that will leave you angry for days to come; and know that even at Christmas have the power to walk away from anything that doesn’t make you happy.
2. Take time out
For so many people Christmas is a time filled with family, friends and a house full of people. And that’s amazing… but it can be too damned much.
So whatever you’re up to this month remember to take time out for yourself in whatever way works for you; whether it’s the odd five minutes here and there, a night in the house to recharge your batteries, or a long wintry afternoon walk.
Christmas is a time for loving and giving of course – but that also includes what you love and give to yourself. And in lives that are so damned full of shoulds and musts the rest of the year, doesn’t it make all the more sense to give ourselves the time we want during those times we’re not at work?
And remember – when you give yourself the time that you need, that tends to benefit other people too. Who else is all the more willing for a round of family games when they’re not feeling frazzled and overwhelmed?
3. Stop comparing
As much as I love Christmas, I know firsthand its ability to push more than a few of my trigger buttons. Because a world when we’re constantly being told we be perfect, this most commercially focused time of year can be the worst of all!
But you know the secret to that? Sack off the peer pressure and stop comparing yourself to anyone else or, worse, to that bullshit idea of “perfect” the media are so determined to sell us right now!
No, your life may not be like a festively romantic Hallmark movie, You may not have kids that need you to move an Elf once they’re in bed every night (hands up – those little elves have more an impact on my insecurities than just about anything else out there), your idea of a homemade festive feast may be tipping crisps out of bags and tearing lids off pots of dips etc etc etc but So. Flipping. What?!
Let’s be honest, we all have our strengths – and our areas for development; and we all have our blessings – and the parts of life that we see as challenges. But that doesn’t make us any less amazing.
So this Christmas, instead of comparing yourself and your life to everyone else out there, I invite you simply celebrate the life that you’re in. It will work wonders for your mood, honestly.
4. Feel the feeling and move forward
Let’s be honest here, there will inevitably be a point over the next few weeks that you find yourself getting angry, sad, envious, frustrated, embarrassed or disappointed.
Some people out there will tell you that at Christmas all of those feelings should be brushed under the mat, never to be spoken of again until they undoubtedly resurface and have to be packed away again at the same time next year. Me? I’m not one of those people.
I am all about honouring your feeling whenever and why ever they crop. You’ve felt them, that makes them valid, so why ignore them?
However, that’s not to say that those feelings should be dwelled upon or taken out on anyone else.
When it comes to what you're feeling be honest: Allow yourself to feel them – even if that means taking a quick trip to the bathroom for a little temper tantrum or a few tears, acknowledge that they’re there, deal with or investigate them if you have to, and then move forwards.
If the feelings are big ones that stir up something deep, you can always go back and delve into them later on when you have the time and space to do them – and yourself – justice.
5. Do what’s right for you
In the work I do, I so often hear from women who are unhappy simply because they’ve followed the plans that someone else has made for them. And while choosing to follow what’s right for them instead isn’t always easy, it does bring enough benefits to be worth the scariness.
And so whether it’s the time you get out of bed on a Bank Holiday, the clothes you wear to a party or who you choose to invite into your house; make sure that this is the Christmas you do what’s right for you rather than listening to the things others expect or think you should be doing.
And OK, an extra bonus one…
6. Focus on what it’s really all about
Despite what the ads and movies will tell us, Christmas at its heart is about love – about reminding those we care for just how much they mean to us (and that totally includes ourselves) and about being grateful for everything and everyone we do have in our lives.
So when things are getting tough, and you’re struggling to stand in your power, do your best to focus on that. And remember, December is only one month of the year, and there’s a whole new beginning just a few weeks away.