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Am I meant to be feeling joyful?

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For those of you who hold beliefs around Christmas, the festive season is a time of joy and celebration. Right? From the moment the fruit mince pies appear in the supermarkets ... We associate Christmas and holidays with family, friends and long-standing traditions. We walk and drive the streets looking for the most decorated homes, while loving the sparkling lights on our own trees. We forgive our annoying neighbours for a while and play songs we all know the words too. Smiling at strangers is generous rather than creepy, and the crying children with sticky fingers are super cute with their little Santa hats on. We justify the extra alcohol because it’s ‘Christmas’ and Instagram provides all the evidence we need that everybody’s having more fun than should be allowed!

A reality check! For some, in fact for many, that’s far from the reality of how life feels at this time of year. All the fake laughing is exhausting and the constant need to navigate difficult relationships is overwhelming. Is Kris Kringle actually a good idea? It’s not happy families for everyone and the ‘merry’ Christmas vibes can feel more like a stabbing pain in your eye, rather than joy. Even those who feel strong and healthy, in terms of their mental health, can struggle as the end of the year approaches. The stress of shopping for presents, the work social events and planning the perfect meals can even take its toll on people who are up for everything that this time of year brings. The so called ‘festive season’ can affect you financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually – and not in a good way! If you’ve had a rough year, your energy might be low. Perhaps you’re experiencing grief of some form or still processing the impacts of the pandemic. And this is the time when some people realise that they didn’t create or change what they committed to in their new year resolutions from last year, and life is very much the same as it’s always been. Our resilience to cope with the festive seasonal onslaught can be stretched.

Five strategies for looking after you during the festive season

Taking some time to plan is critical when it comes to looking after your wellbeing during times of potential stress. Consider the environments you’re going to be in and have your strategies ready. It’s often difficult to think logically if you’re feeling emotional, so find a quiet moment to think through what might trigger you to feel anxious or sad. These strategies might help:

  1. Limit noise pollution – There's so much stimulation that goes with this time of year. Everywhere we go our brain is having to process information: loud music, large crowds and constant electronic alerts on devices cause our brain to go into overdrive. It’s like having lots of ‘tabs’ open. Just as your brain and body need physical activity, they also need stillness and quiet. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, schedule time to rest.
  2. Don’t believe everything you think – We know that what we think directly impacts how we feel. There’s nothing like a family gathering or watching our friends celebrating their successful year to make us feel insecure or even like we’re failing. If you’re a natural over-thinker, you’ll probably do your best work as you head into the new year. Consciously note your negative thoughts and reframe them into positive ones whenever you can manage it.
  3. Create new rituals – This is particularly important if you’re having a ‘first’ Christmas. Perhaps you’ll be the only single at the party after the breakdown of a long-term relationship or it’s your first Christmas since the death of a parent. Design some new rituals that are meaningful to you and honour what’s important to you.
  4. Have perspective – The truth is, bad things happen to good people and life can really suck sometimes. Part of being an emotionally intelligent grown-up, is the ability to be grateful for what you do have and an ability to appreciate the things in your life that are precious. There really are families with no food to eat and people unable to fall asleep because they feel unsafe. Write down what you love about your life and come back to your list on your bad days.
  5. Choose what you say ‘yes’ too – People-pleasing is rife at this time of year. We often feel obliged to attend various social occasions and ‘do the right thing’. But remember, you do matter. And when you say ‘yes’ to that dinner, you’re in fact saying ‘no’ to the sleep you really need. You’re a complex human who won’t always get it right and, sometimes, you need to make yourself the priority. It’s not easy, and you might offend a few people, but the world will keep on spinning.

Don’t forget to say ‘yes’ to some fun and the people who really care about you. Participate in activities that’ll fuel you and make you laugh out loud. Life is precious and so are you. 2022 is here and you get another opportunity to design what your life will look like.

– The Coach Place Global

Image by @entersge

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