by Claire Di Guisto, Qualified Psychotherapist and Counsellor at Chelsea Natural Health Clinic.
So here it is Merry Christmas everybody is having fun… Oh, really! Are we all having fun? Am I the only one who has sometimes experienced what we could call the Christmas blues?
Christmas can highlight our difficulties and challenges and actually be a cruel and lonely time.
When our families and relationships do not conform to the jolly seasonal stereotypes , when we have lost someone important that year, when someone close to us is suffering , when we are feeling cut off from ourselves by mental or physical health issues , or if we feel burdened by uncertainties about our planet, the Christmas season may bring more stress and blues that peace and joy and this is because our reality does not compare favourably to our expectations.
December days are short and some of us suffer from SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, making it difficult to get into a festive spirit. We can try and solve that by getting plenty of daylight and get out as much as we can, in nature if possible, and try and eat and drink sensibly.
The run up and countdown to Christmas and the relentless advertising campaigns (Even the Great War has been diverted towards yuletide consumerism this year) are geared to lure us into a spending spree. It is best to make sure we do not spend more than we can afford. Some will always have more than us and be able to spoil loved ones more, but sometimes (sounding like my mother now…) a nicely written card means more than a shop wrapped expensive present (Or an amazon delivered one… that you had to queue to retrieve at the post office on a cold morning).
Regarding the festive gatherings, we can pick and choose:
We have a right to say no to any Christmas drinks, lunch, and dinner if we want to. We have a right to suggest alternative arrangements to the traditional snooze in front of the Queens speech if we do not feel this is the best for us this year. We have a right to say we will only come for coffee it is all we feel we can manage. We also have a right to enjoy the whole shebang if this is what we would like to do . Christmas is not one size fits all, that’s all and that is ok.
Gatherings bring us back to family dynamics, sometimes it is good, sometimes… less so.
We can choose to let it affect us or not. This is not the time to address sibling rivalries or to confront Uncle Sam on his political views… We can do that later. If we have not too high expectations, surely we can only be pleasantly surprised…
Families are often spread out now making it a logistic nightmare and forcing people to travel endlessly in wintery conditions. So a little flexibility will go miles; is there anything wrong with an early Christmas, or with an It is Not Christmas family dinner later in the year. ?
If you are hosting a Christmas event, why not enrol the guests to help with practicalities. It will help them feel more at home at your party… and will leave you more time to soak in that bath in anticipation of the joy of togetherness . If you are a born Host and you enjoy it, great , if not, why not suggest that others could organise next Christmas.
If we do not seem to be included in anyone’s plans for Christmas, let us remember we can reach out to others in the same situation. We can also look into volunteering on that day, there are national initiatives like Crisis and many local ones.
So I am not shouting “Bah Humbug” with Scrooge, but I am just pointing out, that if you feel a bit low this Christmas, you probably have a few good reasons to be and that does not make you an alien on this planet even if you might feel like it amidst the busyness of the Festive Season and you certainly do not need to feel guilty about it. There are ways around it.
But if you are facing really deep issues, and feeling very low, remember the Samaritans are always there to listen.08457 90 90 90.
Time is a great healer and you will probably feel better by the time Next Christmas comes along . Maybe you could also use the New Year to decide how best to address the challenges you face?
I will finish by the words Slade, famous philosophers, quoted at the beginning of this piece, chose to end up their Christmas tune..
Look to the future it is only starting now.
MERRY INDIVIDUAL CHRISTMAS TO ALL.