Although it’s always conveyed in films and the media as such a happy and joyous occasion, it often has very different connotations for each and every one of us. We think we’re supposed to be perfect, organised, relaxed and happy at this time of year – you only have to switch on the television to see portrayals of smiley, happy families, sitting around a dining table that’s heaving with perfectly cooked food; children receiving the perfect gifts; everybody having a good time; it’s even snowing most of the time (perfect, white fluffy snow to provide the perfect backdrop for perfectly-lit Christmas trees, Christmas lights and reindeer).
It’s amazing really, how much of this made-up reality we still really expect!
In reality, there are all sorts of things that will inevitably stop this time of year being perfect for so many of us:
- financial worries
- having to get along with family with whom we perhaps don’t always have the greatest of relationships
- fitting in so many social engagements, that we would perhaps not usually choose to do
- or conversely, seeing everyone else out ‘enjoying themselves’ whilst we are stuck at home for whatever reason (family commitments, illness, finances etc); feeling as though we’re the only ones being left out
- feeling the need to do so much extra shopping – for gifts, food, drink, and all the trimmings
- feeling, for whatever reason, as though we don’t fit into the ‘norm’
- missing people who are away from home at Christmas or loved ones who have died
- mid-winter blues and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- anxiety and depression centred around excessive commercialism
- shame, guilt, and feeling as though we’re failures if we don’t live up to perceived expectations
- feeling as though everything has to be crammed into a few days!
- the list goes on…
All of these factors can have very real side-effects:
- tension headaches
- muscle fatigue
- excessive drinking
- mood swings
- comfort eating
- to name but a few… sometimes leading to more serious mental health problems in the short-term or in the long-run.
Using various techniques such as NLP Coaching, Mindfulness and, of course, Hypnotherapy, you can help yourself to feel more empowered at this time of the year, feeling more in control and less at the whim of what films, television and other people seem to demand of you.
If you take the opportunity now, in the run-up to Christmas, to take back control of the more hindering patterns of behaviour and thinking, it might just make a positive difference.
Here are a few tips that might help at this time of the year:
Notice the needless pressures
Take just a moment or two to step back from the pressures to be a certain way, or do certain things. You might begin to realise how we’re constantly ‘hypnotised’ by advertising and by the pressures others put upon us. What’s really important to you and your loved ones? Is it really that important to you to go to the annual corporate staff party, seeing people you already see all day every day anyway? Or would you genuinely prefer to spend the time at home with family and special friends of your choosing? Is it more important to throw the party extravaganza of the year or simply to have a few friends round for a few friendly drinks? Also, try to notice how many times you get (for want of a better expression) ‘bullied’ into doing these things or risk being seen as ‘a Scrooge’ or ‘Grinch’ if you don’t. Instead of getting swept along with what everyone else wants, this standing back and taking notice on purpose can enable you to make more enjoyable choices for you which will inevitably lead to a far happier and more relaxed time for everyone involved.
Notice your thought patterns
Many of us fool ourselves into thinking that this year we’ll have the perfect Christmas. And then we end up saying things like “All I want to do is relax and enjoy it but I don’t have the time,” because usually we’re too busy trying to make everything perfect!
Also realise that most people are in exactly the same boat as you – despite the fact that they might be trying to fool everyone else into thinking that they’re having a perfect time too!
Just noticing these things, and similar, going on in your thoughts can help to make a positive difference. It puts a little bit of space between you and what you’re thinking, which can feel very liberating.
Spread things out
Often, we try to cram so much into so few days. So instead of trying to see everyone at Christmas, why not make a date now for sometime in the new year when everyone is perhaps feeling a little less stressed and has more time? Organise a day out with special friends in January for a change; make a note in your new diary of catching up with someone during one of the weekends after Christmas. Often, during the time immediately after Christmas some people can feel a little low – the days are still very short, the weather’s less than appealing… and you don’t have Christmas to look forward to! So having something booked in to look forward to can make a huge difference – and it helps to spread things out a bit and take the pressure off too.
Remember you're only human
Remember that being human involves negative emotions too. No-one can be constantly happy, even at Christmas. And, in a way, that’s ok. Emotions come and go, just like Christmases.
Often, because we feel the pressures of having to ‘put on a happy front’, we end up feeling even worse. Not many of us have perfect lives. Many of us are having to contend with anxieties and depressions concerning all sorts of different things that are personal to us.
We might be dealing with bereavement, long term illness (ourselves or loved ones), unemployment, debt, emotional or physical abuse, redundancy… So try to go easy on yourself.
Plan in advance
No, I‘m not talking about making lists of things to do and people to see (although these can really help to make you feel more in control). I’m talking about thinking in advance of potential pitfalls that could jeopardise your happiness at this time of the year. For example, if you’ve recently given up smoking or are cutting down on alcohol, then it might be a good idea to think of all the potential triggers that might crop up – you know what they are for you. Even feeling social anxiety can be eased by thinking in advance of what things trigger certain reactions and what action you can take to help the way you feel. Christmas is a time for comfort eating too, and the pounds can soon pile on, so just being aware of any potential triggers, and having a back-up plan just in case can help to ease things a little and make you feel more confident in the choices you make.
The holidays can (and should) be a rejuvenating time of year but often it takes a little organisation and forward planning of the things that are going on inside our own heads to make a difference.
And as I said, NLP Coaching, Mindfulness and Hypnotherapy can all make a difference in helping us to feel more in control of what’s going on inside our own heads.
Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more:
Email Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call 07733 839 591