Dear Cat … I am secretly dreading the festive season, am I the only one? Every time Christmas rolls around it seems to bring with it so much pressure to be ‘having a wonderful time’ that I am usually having exactly the opposite!
Maybe it’s because, as a military family, we can never choose the kind of Christmas we would really like, my husband is either away, or we are in a different country from family and friends, or we have too many of them to stay, in too small a house, for too long a time period!
Have you got any tips for making this Christmas a happy occasion rather than the stressful one it seems to always turn out to be! Karen.
My response: Hi Karen, Thank you so much for raising this topic!
I agree that Christmas can so often turn out not to be the “happily singing carols round the fireside” stereotype that the media likes to portray, but there is hope!
Here are my top tips for a happy and stress-free Christmas.
You might not think of your confidence as something that affects how you feel about Christmas but, just like any other challenging time, self-esteem and confidence, or the lack of it, is crucial.
Christmas brings stress and challenges our self-esteem because of how much we expect;
a) from ourselves: i.e “I’m supposed to find the perfect present for everyone, to wrap them perfectly, write cards on time, prepare perfect food, find perfect decorations, get on well with everyone all the time …..”
b) from those around us i.e. “You’re supposed to be loving and happy all the time, you’re supposed to make me feel wonderful by finding me the perfect gift that shown amazing thought and preparation….”
c) from the season in general: i.e. “Everyone is supposed to be having an amazing time, everyone else’s Christmas seems to be perfect, I bet their kids are thoughtful and grateful and perfectly behaved…”
Those who find Christmas the most enjoyable are those who accept it might be challenging, and so don’t expect perfection. He or she doesn’t ‘beat themselves up’ if they forget something, or if something goes wrong. They focus instead on what they can control, they maintain their self-belief, and they focus on building themselves and others up.
When we feel happy and ‘at our best’ is when our self-esteem is good. We usually feel confident in our ability to cope with life even under unpredictable or challenging circumstances.
If we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances then our confidence and feeling of being able to cope is ‘threatened’ and our physiological fight or flight instinct kicks in. This causes physical changes such as an increased heart rate, and we might feel hot, nauseous, or agitated.
We will describe these physical experiences as negative emotions such as frustration, anger, fear or anxiety.
If we are unaware what generates our negative emotions, then we will also be unaware that our subsequent actions are attempts to protect or repair our self-esteem, we instinctively do what makes ourselves feel more in control and ‘better’ at the time.
Have you ever found yourself becoming angry or defensive more quickly, or arguing with your spouse or children over ‘nothing’, or do something to ‘take your mind off it’ such as drinking or eating too much?
If you are behaving in a negative way towards yourself or others then it is a clear sign that the pressure of Christmas is affecting your self-esteem.
“No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
“Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how”
Here are the details about the book, it’s not too late to order a Christmas copy or e-copy! 50% of profits go to UK military and civilian counselling charities.
‘Stay Calm and Content No Matter What Life Throws At You’ covers more than 25 different topics and is a short and jargon-free look at how to live a happier life. Only £9.95 on Amazon, multiple 5 star reviews and professional starred reviews.
I am available confidentially for counselling and coaching via the telephone and Skype. www.staycalmandcontent.com
You can follow me on Twitter @catstaycalm , Facebook – Stay Calm and Content, and find out more about happiness and relationships via my blog www.staycalmandcontent.com/blog
Take care! Cat x
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