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How to survive Christmas and the Festive Season

David | December 23, 2018

Nothing congers up the strange combination of dread and excitement like Christmas Day – it’s is a difficult day for most of us so I thought I’d share some helpful strategies to avoid some of the pitfalls.

The usual best practices still apply, like limiting your alcohol, keeping hydrated, getting plenty of rest, keeping active etc. These are obvious and well documented – I wanted to share with you some of the not so obvious booby traps that lie waiting for you so you have a better chance of surviving the festive season relatively unscathed or at least better prepared and hopefully minimising the potential dramas.

1.Being alone or not having love ones with you at Christmas.

As we mature we can find ourselves sharing Christmas without parents or love ones through circumstances or from their passing, or for young people, travelling overseas is hard being away from home at Christmas without family. Both cases can be very emotionally difficult –  if you don’t manage feelings of loss or sadness you can find yourself having an upsetting day. My late father loved Christmas, he sang carols while he cooked wonderful gourmet food – he was so happy to have everyone home at Mangrove Mountain – he was our “Christmas Light”. Since his passing 5 years ago we celebrate with him in spirit and celebrate the happiness he shared with us despite his physical absence.  

To process emotional sadness, acknowledge the emotion and then use ‘Letting Go’ to connect and release the emotional energy. That is, feel with long, slow in breaths into your belly/emotion ( to connect with the emotion ) then with the intention of letting the emotion go, feel the out breath through your mouth letting go all of the sadness. Repeat 4-6 times. This sounds simple and it is, however, it’s really effective and allows you to let go of the emotional pain in the moment that potentially can govern your Christmas / festive mood. Feeling the love for absent members naturally creates happiness within you so you can celebrate with the family and friends you do have with you.

2.How to manage conflict with a difficult family member.

Conflict with family members is really common. The first few hours or days everybody is trying to be on their best behaviour and peace reigns for this period, then any unresolved wounds for some start to emerge fueled by alcohol and triggered by some innocent statement or comment – then BANG !!!

These explosions can range from being drunkenly abused, to subtle belittling and put downs or both. Either way the combination of drinking too much and spending way too much time together in close quarters can be a lethal combination creating a bomb that just needs one last comment to light the emotional wick.

So what do you do if you find yourself in either situation – run !!!!

No, the power of any situation is in your ability to manage your own reaction, to stay calm and be the better person. To stay calm simply place your attention feeling your breath immediately with long slow breaths and then in a calm tone try to acknowledge their pain / feelings and ask “can we to discuss this tomorrow as its Christmas and I’d be happy to discuss this with you then ? “. If they continue their tirade, simply breath and repeat your request.

In the advent of a full on attack, ( as a the last resort ),  remove yourself from the room and retire and try to resolve the issue in the sober light of the following day. Realistically, people project their emotional wounds and as such you can never really resolve them without them taking responsibility for their part of the drama they project. Remember you are free to stay calm and open hearted despite the emotional storm that may bear down on you so choose to manage your own emotions and you’ll feel more empowered and at the same time potentially ward off the drama and save the day – good luck !!  

3.Cultivating a good attitude.

Most of us have wonderful childhood memories of singing carols by candle light in our pajamas on Christmas eve unable to sleep with the excitement of Santa arriving with the reindeers and the presents we may receive in our stockings.

Over the years our expectations and experience of Christmas changes naturally as we grow up and share the magic with our children and family nieces and nephews.

As family’s mature and children move away and partner, get married etc.  Christmas gets complicated and our expectations of the ideal family get together gets harder if not impossible to maintain and our old expectations, hopes and dreams become unrealistic. This unmet expectation of what Christmas should be places a great strain on everybody and any short comings we can judge and feel let down as this year somehow wasn’t up to our old expectations.

The key to having a happy Christmas is NOT to have unrealistic expectations about having the perfect day, where everyone will be perfectly behaved, the traffic will flow and everything goes smoothly etc. This will set you up for disappointment and despair every time.

The best way to approach Christmas is to simply open your heart and have gratitude for your blessings of the day, the people in your life that love you, friends, the healthy delicious food you share. Even if you are alone you can still find happiness in the day by engaging in positive activities that make you feel good like swimming at the beach, walking picturesque trails, making your favourite food and reaching out to close friends and family.

We have a choice to choose peace and enjoy whatever our Christmas day brings. We live in a time of peace and plenty, be present and grateful for the blessings life has given you and enjoy your day however it finds you.    


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