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Christmas without stress: part 2

Dr Carole Pemberton
Wondrous Coach

We’re sharing thoughts, strategies and techniques for how to manage conflicting emotions during festive times from our network of leading coaches. Today, we continue with Wondrous coach Dr Carole Pemberton’s tips for a Christmas without stress.

Tips for when you want to be alone

People can find it hard to accept that someone can choose to avoid Christmas because they don’t like all that it brings, so the hardest part can be other people’s reactions. So how do you handle their responses.

  • Take a positive message. ‘This year I have decided to do Christmas my way – alone. I’m really looking forward to the Christmas break’. No justification. No clarification.
  • Remember, all that people will ask after Christmas is ‘Did you have a good one?’. Once you have answered that in the affirmative, the conversation will move on.
  • Relish all the things that you can do that others may feel trapped by e.g. staying in your PJ’s all day, not having to eat turkey, watching whatever you want to, or not watching anything at all.

Tips for when you don’t want to be alone

This is the hardest because the pressure to show you are part of a group is strong. You have two choices to look to find ways of connecting with others or reframing the day.

  • If your need is to be with others then look for ways of connecting e.g. volunteering for the day, or inviting others to be part of your day.
  • If you are alone, consider it as simply a day off from the norm. Ignore the date and consider what you would want to do with the gift of a day. What is the best day you can imagine for yourself, and create it.
  • Don’t be triggered by the idealised images of others Christmases. Remember, many of them will wish they could have the Christmas you are having, where you can make choices about what you want to eat, drink, do as they are feeling caught by others’ expectations.
  • So What Does Christmas Tell Us That is Relevant For the Rest of the Year?
  • Getting through difficulties is easier if we focus on what is realistic rather than having a fixed idea of how things should be.
  • Recognising that we can make choices about how we are react to people, and in making that choice our sense of control comes back.
  • If we set ourselves a purpose it can act as an anchor to guide us through the ups and downs of a situation.
  • We don’t have to fit into other people’s expectations of how we should be. We are at our best when we recognise our own needs and have the confidence to act on them.
  • Every Christmas is different, but we may be holding onto an idealised picture of how it should be. Our Christmases change as we and our family and friendship groups change. Similarly every year should be different as we develop and those around us change. Accepting and working with those differences makes us resilient.

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