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keep calm Christmas

Christmas – A Season to be Mindful

As Christmas approaches and the momentum of the festive season gathers pace it’s probably a good idea to reflect upon the fact that Christmas can be really quite a stressful time.  It’s a time when we need to take a little bit more care of ourselves and manage some of the stress that Christmas can bring.

For many Christmas is the biggest change to their routine in the entire year. Most people stop working and will find themselves spending more time in the company of partners and family members than they are used to.  You may have guests staying – so they’re in your space and may wish they were actually at home.  So, there are some obvious reasons why what’s meant to be a happy gathering could turn out to be one where friction and even tempers arise.

Therefore, it’s important to think about your personal space and the people around you. We’re not meant to be cooped up with people for long periods of time in limited space. So, deliberately take time to find some of your own time or space. Go for a walk – anything to offer you some sense of a return to your normal routine.

Perhaps the biggest stressors at Christmas are the ones we make ourselves. So often we set heightened or unnecessary expectations that inevitably produce stress: “Oh I’ve got to get presents for my sister’s kids”; “I haven’t even started doing my Christmas shopping”; “Every year I leave it ‘til the last minute’; “I’ve no idea what to get dad”; “I hate Christmas”.  Heard any of these lately? Well, they are all self-made and therefore avoidable.  

Don’t get caught in a spiral of ‘must’, ‘got to’, ‘can’t not invite’ – you have a choice and one choice is to move away from stress and not towards it.

Christmas is also a time when many reflect on the year about to end. For some, reminders of people no longer with us can be painful and acute; their absence seems even more apparent. For others reflecting on the past year may foster negative feelings – choices not made, opportunities not taken, goals not met. It is wise to guard against this tendency to ruminate and find some time to reflect on some more positive circumstances.

So, Christmas can be a wonderful time for many but be mindful that you will probably enjoy it more if you take a little time to think about why it can be stressful and, most importantly, what you can do about it. 

Article written by Alistair McBeath, Associate Practitioner at the Craigie Partnership

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