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I wish you a merry Christmas?

Coach Reece Wood by Reece Wood
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Christmas and New year holidays have come around again and wow I just got over the last one. Really tell me it is not true. Sorry, it is rushing upon us.

Are you someone that dislikes or has bad memories of Christmas?
Are you someone who gets stressed or anxious around this time whether emotionally or financially?

You are not alone, and many people share these sentiments with many studies indicating about a third of people have issues with the holidays.

Reasons for these feelings include:
• Obligated to socialise with a lot of different family or friends that consumes time and with people that
are either painful or always in conflict
• Financial pressures leading up to and lasting into the new year
• Gift buying and “expected” celebration food/drink and decorations
• Happy memories of a loved one who is no longer around for Christmas
• Unable to see family or being alone
• Has become repetitive and the same year after year

So more important than the reasons why you dislike or are not feeling the Holiday spirit is WHAT YOU can do to overcome or reduce the effects of these.

1. Look at the amount of time you feel obligated to spend on both travel to family, the amount of time spent, and the quality of those gatherings. Do you find that Uncle Bob always gets drunk and starts being obnoxious and you are too polite to take your leave? Perhaps not staying for a long period past the excitement and catch-up and making visits time-bound. This should be a happy celebration for YOU and you deserve to have that, so maybe this year you say “heh I will see Mum and Dad on the 25th but I will see Uncle Bob in the New Year”. Prioritise what is important to YOU and your loved ones.

2. In relation to point One perhaps try changing up the celebrations and celebrate just a bit differently. Do you really need to put the same dog-eared tree up in the same corner? Do you need the same food or this year are you going for chicken rather than Turkey, shock horror? Think about how even some small changes can perhaps help make the day a little different.

3. Do not put excessive pressure on yourself to “make this the best Christmas”. Beyond a point, you are not responsible for others’ views of the holidays so think about what you can do to cut yourself some slack and stick to those rules and limits you have created.

4. It is the season of giving and we must all try to reflect on what we have and the blessings on us rather than what we do not have. Think of the homeless or financially struggling or ill that are not feeling the joy like you. Perhaps consider helping those less fortunate. Giving is more than giving a gift it can be the gift of compassion and love. Consider the family volunteering for a few hours at a local mission, church or donating food or money that would otherwise go on a gift forgotten in a week. This is a real good one for children to get involved in.

5. Most important is to not overspend and have debt into the new year. Set a budget and stick to it and let others know what you are doing. Do you need all that food and drink that gets wasted? Does your son need that expensive device that is out of favour in a few months? Perhaps part of your children’s gift allowance could be helping others as in point 4. When children are older you can give them responsibility for spending what they would normally get. Giving older children an option of spending for Christmas or spending the same amount at boxing day sales and getting twice as much perhaps teaches the value of saving and shopping for bargains as well as forego now for greater rewards later lessons. With online shopping, you can avoid impulse buying at the mall and reduce the stress of that and overspending. Plus, you get to do it with your feet up watching a favourite show.

6. RELAX, most importantly take a minute and breathe throughout this period. Take some time out by yourself for YOU, a walk, a bath, meditate, read a chapter of a book, watch a movie, or whatever is a bliss time for you. If plans change or something is unexpected just take a moment before you react and think about it before enacting a change or taking action. This will give the mind time to process rather than knee jerk instinct to kick in. Use this time to enjoy the connection to people in your life and keep smiling and embrace the joy that is their life and yours. The saying laughter is the best medicine has stayed around for so long for a very good reason. Find laughter and joy in everything even mishaps and you will have a more enjoyable season.

Finally, if you really are struggling with the holidays do seek out an ear even to listen whether a friend, family member, work colleague, or professional (yes I am available up until Christmas). A problem shared really is a problem halved.
AND ….
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

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