3 ways to take control at Christmas

Let me guess, Christmas is fast approaching and your stress is building. Everywhere you go there’s Christmas music, and ‘happy family’ adverts seem to leap out at you from the TV. You can feel the dread building, and the worst thing is you have family coming to stay and so you can’t even escape in your own home.

And you used to love Christmas so much; you can remember the times when you used to look forward to decorating the house, and planning everything.

So what changed?

In those days you hoped you’d have children, and now you know that’s not going to happen, so you’re stuck. You want to do something to help you get through, but you don’t know what.

Here are 3 ways to take control at Christmas:

1. Make a plan – establish new traditions

What’s the betting you have lists for presents, cards and food, but you don’t have a plan for the time you’ll be spending at home. Over the years of having parents to stay I’ve learned that having a plan works well. I’ve already started to think about what we’ll do each day, I invite other people over, we go to a show, and I record or buy ‘suitable’ family films that we can all watch.

What helps us is to fill the time with interesting things and especially those that are fun and/or give us something to talk about afterwards.

Traditions are an important part of Christmas and for us it’s an opportunity to establish new ones such as going to a carol service on Christmas Eve and going for a walk every day.

How can you start to plan now?

2. Plan a treat for January

Family coming to stay?I find that having something positive to look forward in January really keeps me going.

And it can be something simple – a day in the country with my husband gives me something to look forward to and is enough to recharge me.

This works even better for me if I can keep reminding myself of the treat and I do this by keeping a relevant photo in a prominent place. This year we’ll be spending a few days in the Yorkshire Dales, where I grew up and my favourite place and I know that this will replenish me.

What can you organise now that you can look forward to in January?

3. Establish a self-care routine

In the past I’ve been pretty hard on myself and my self – talk was really negative.

self compassionNow I know how destructive this negativity can be and I’ve turned my life round by learning the importance of self-compassion and establishing (and practicing) a self-care routine.

When I’m feeling negative I stop and say to myself “this is really hard, how can I comfort and care for myself?

This has made a massive difference to how I feel about myself generally and how I cope when I’m struggling.

A Moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life. Christopher K Germer

How much difference would it make if you were kind to yourself?

How can you be kind to yourself when you’re having a hard time?

You may also want to think about how to carve out a few minutes with your partner or a close friend to care for each other. You know that a loving touch or a look can really turn your day around when you’re feeling low, so how can you use this?

And remember ‘This too will pass.’ In a few weeks you’ll be looking back and congratulating yourself on how well you coped with this Christmas compared to last year.

Please pass it on.

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7 thoughts on “3 ways to take control at Christmas”

  1. Lovely article Lesley. Christmas can be a tricky time of year for many people and does tend to be very family orientated – although I find the enormous commericalism wrapped around it all a little hard to bear. But I wanted to mention the other aspect of Christmas which is, of course, charity. We did two Christmas Boxes for Operation Christmas Child this year, providing a few toys for children who have nothing. And there are so many homeless and lonely older people over here who would love to feel some Christmas warmth. So perhaps another tip is ‘what charity operation could you be involved with over Christmas?’ Seasonal blessings to all your readers.
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  2. Such a touching article, Lesley. Thank you for sharing. I too find Christmas hard (although admittedly for different reasons). For me, self-compassion/self-care takes the form of carving out some ‘me time’ at some stage in the day. Whether that means disappearing for a candle-lit bath with a glass of wine or taking a milky coffee out into the garden first thing to reflect … It gives me a safe space to allow whatever’s there to surface and an opportunity to prepare myself mentally for the day.

  3. As always, thank you for these wise tips. I’ve been getting all ‘het up’ at the thought of it all (plus sister and little nephew will be staying with us for 10 days) – so I understand the ‘you can’t even escape from your own home’ sentiment! I feel a sense of sadness that Christmas is ‘for children’ but know that ‘this too shall pass’. As always it is our perceptions which shape how we are and are attitudes. I will endeavour to plan new Christmas traditions and to plan something to look forward to in the New Year. Again, thank you for the reminder and best wishes.

    • Thank you so much Anna, I’m pleased that you find my tips helpful.
      As you say ‘this too shall pass’ so here’s a tip to consider.
      Imagine that it’s 2nd January (or whenever you family have gone home), and the visit went really well. What did you do to make it go well? Think about the things you did to make the visit go smoothly, what did you do to keep calm and not get ‘het up’?
      When you’ve considered this for a moment or 2, you’ll now know what to do.
      And you could maybe escape into the bathroom….
      take care of yourself,
      Lesley x


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