I’ve always been a big lover of Christmas, but even so, I find there can be quite a lot of pressure to get it ‘right’.
A lot needs to be done in order to get that picture-perfect, family Christmas (which I’m pretty sure was created by the media hype). There’s also that need to put a happy face on at parties – even with close relatives – to present an image that everything is OK. The pressure from both can be really detrimental to my mental health. I end up failing to meet my own ridiculous expectations, and find I’m not able to be myself around the people I love.
Fortunately, I’ve found some ways to help over the Christmas period:
Be honest about how you’re feeling
If you have relatives coming over I explain to them beforehand that I’ve been struggling a bit and will need their support to make it a happy Christmas. In the past the fear of getting a bad reaction would have stopped me from doing this, but I find it’s working well – I think it’s actually improving the relationships I have with my relatives as I feel closer to them.
Suggest practical ways people can help you
I try to be very clear and specific about the ways that people can help take the burden off me. Usually that involves bringing a side dish or pudding, or helping serve drinks for people throughout the day.
Prepare as much as you can in advance
I try and think ahead to get some things prepared in advance – a big one being to order presents. I tend to write a list of things I can do at the beginning of the month and slowly work my way through whenever I have some spare time. I find I get rid of that last minute stress of rushing around the shops or to the post office to pick up missed deliveries.
Remember to get out the house
Over the years I’ve realised I start to get cabin fever from being in the house too much, stuffing my face and trying to get stuff sorted in time for Christmas day. It’s always good for me to get out of the house, even if it’s just for a ten minute walk around the park – just to get some daylight and fresh air!
Try to maintain your normal routine
Routine is particularly good for me, and when it goes to pot I start feeling scatty and all over the place. A combination of too much eating, too many late nights and not enough exercise can quickly take its toll on me.
Schedule in some time for yourself
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really started to appreciate the time I make for myself. It usually involves doing something chilled, like watching TV or reading a new book – anything that keeps me away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. It must be something I find wholesome that helps me to recharge.
I don’t want to sound preachy and as if I have everything sorted (as I certainly don’t!), but I hope that at least one of these ways can help other people enjoy the Christmas period a little more.