Have you seen that M&S advert? The one where they throw the party hats in the shredder, send a board game flying off the table and scorch a gingerbread house down to the ground?
Besides flogging their (undeniably!) delicious range of food there was a very valid point to the advert.
The point being that Christmas should be a holiday of your choosing.
Many of us get so caught up with how we should celebrate the festive period, that we give less concern to how we are actually feeling.
After all, Christmas can be very chaotic, with a huge Santa’s sack of expectations and pressures. So how do we bypass all the noise and bring the focus back on ourselves?
Mindfulness Journalling – Mindfulness Journalling is a creative way to express and process all your emotions and feelings. Reading back, it can help give you an objective perspective of what is troubling you – and how you can empower yourself to incite change.
Remember, there really is no ‘right’ way to journal – just write! Allow yourself to jot down any thoughts that occur naturally and see where your writing takes you.
Some people like to use ‘prompts’ to help them address certain challenges or topics that they may otherwise avoid. Here are some Christmas related prompts to help tap into how you feel.
- Is there anything that makes you feel sad around Christmas? Is there anything that can help relieve that tension?
- What would a peaceful Christmas look like to you? Are there any ways you can make that achievable?
- What do you want to take forward with you into the New Year? What do you need to leave behind?
- What makes you feel safe, cosy and warm?
- Do you feel like you have enough ‘me’ time?
- What do you want to achieve next year?
- What are three things you can do to enhance your wellbeing this Christmas?
Writing is a therapeutic way to bring any subconscious thoughts to the surface. You may not even realise how deeply an issue is affecting you until you give yourself a safe space for expression. Keeping a journal throughout Christmas can be a good way to emotionally ‘check-in’ and monitor how you are feeling on a day-to-day basis.
Ho.. Ho… NO! – Christmas can bring along with it a sleigh full of expectations and obligations which requires a whole cup of energy you may not have.
Remember, saying no doesn’t make you a bad person – in fact, setting boundaries is an important part of self-care. But, for some reason, that small two letter word still struggles to roll off the tip of our tongue.
Here are some ways to gently say no when needed.
Say it politely but in simple terms – Keep your response short, sweet and to the point. Whether you’re honest about your circumstance or you give a little white lie, make sure your explanation is polite, brief and to the point. For example, you may say ‘I’m sorry I can’t attend I’m not feeling well at the moment’. Or perhaps, ‘thank you for the invite but I’m busy that weekend’.
No means no – We all know what it’s like to feel persuaded – and even pushed – into doing something. So, if our first refusal isn’t accepted, stay strong. ‘Thank you for the offer but I have to decline’ – is a polite but firm way of showing you stick by your decision.
No guilt trips – Us human beings tend to fall into a nasty habit of berating ourselves whenever we need to say no. This mindset isn’t helpful and can lead us to feeling anxiety and dread. All that guilt – tripping is not only completely unnecessary - but completely undeserved! Remember, it is not your obligation to say yes, and you are not responsible for how people react to your no. It is your responsibility however, to protect and look after yourself and this is what needs to come first and foremost.
Finding your own balance – We are always told that social interaction is beneficial for our wellbeing, which can be in direct conflict when we feel the need to hibernate and hide away.
If you feel like your mental health will allow it, focus on what you can do. This may mean you feel like you can attend a gathering – but maybe for an hour or so.
Perhaps you’d like to rearrange a meet up but for a calmer, quieter time.
It’s all about what feels right for you.
Me Time – When was the last time you prioritised what you needed? When was the last time you listened to what your body and mind was telling you?
In the chaos of Christmas allowing yourself to sit, in silence, and take a breather may seem like a rare novelty - but it can help. On Upbeat we have a variety of relaxation videos you can access here to help you keep grounded and find that moment of calm.
Walks outside, a good book, a creative project or a comfort film or programme all offer good opportunities for escapism when things get too much. Discover what appeals to you and ensure there’s time in your schedule to embrace what makes you happy.
Christmas Support Lines
The Samaritans – The Samaritans are open 24/7, 365 days a year and can be contacted on 116 123.
Shout – Shout is a 24/7 text service which offers mental health support. You can contact them by texting SHOUT to 85258.
Merseycare – Merseycare offer a 24/7 mental health freephone helpline on 0800 1456570.