Peace and joy: what we all want for Christmas

Monday 26 November 2012

Top ten tips on how to survive the festive season by author and psychologist Sarah Rozenthuler

Christmas presents1. Keep it simple

 

Take the pressure off yourself by simplifying the things that most stress you out. Instead of running around trying to buy presents for everyone, agree in advance who you will – and won’t – buy presents for.

 

In my own family, we put all the names of the adults in a hat and each draw out just one person to give a present to, spending a maximum of £25. Have a conversation with members of your family about how you can help to keep it simple for everyone. You might not be the only one that’s relieved to do things differently.

 

2. Create your own ritual

 

If Christmas lunch, midnight Mass or singing carols no longer do it for you, come up with a new ritual. Whether it’s having a friend round for a glass of bubbly or sitting in front of the fire on Christmas Eve, do something that lights you up.

 

Don’t worry what anybody else thinks. Find something that brings you peace and joy. Your ritual could involve lighting candles, being outside or throwing things away that you no longer want to keep. Ask yourself what’s meaningful for you and go do it.

 

3. Do something completely different

 

Ring the changes to re-energise. Consider going away for Christmas if you can afford it. If you can’t, how about volunteering for a local charity to serve lunch in a food kitchen? How about inviting a friend on their own to join you for the big day itself?

 

In my family we broke with tradition and decided to try a local pub for Christmas lunch so that no one had to cook. It was such a success that the next year we had some neighbours join us and we all enjoyed the novelty of pulling crackers and sharing jokes with some new folks.

 

4. Review and reflect

 

Make the most of the dark evenings to take stock about the last year. What have been the highlights? What surprised you? What have you learnt? Before making any resolutions about the next year, dig into your experience of the past year. Flick back through your calendar or diary to remind yourself of what happened.

 

See if there are any relationships with family or friends that could do with some attention. Christmas can be the perfect time to reach out, re-connect and re-establish a bond. Sending a Christmas card is an easy way to let someone know you’re thinking about them and of seeing if there’s still life in a relationship.

 

5. Get back to basics

 

Get in touch with what really matters. In these times of economic austerity, treasure what you do have. Play a board game, get out some old family photos, wrap up warm and go out for a walk.

 

Find a way to have a real conversation with someone you care about. If you’ve struggled to talk at other times, ask them about how their hopes and fears for the year ahead and share what’s on your mind.

 

Woman working on crossword puzzle6. Make the most of the down time

 

The two weeks over Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to allow yourself some time off from emails, tweets and Facebook. Enjoy the spaciousness that comes from switching off your laptop.

 

It’s the one time of the year when there’s a national holiday so make the most of it. Put some energy back into yourself by taking time to rest, reading the paper slowly and enjoying a long soak in the tub.

 

7. Make space

 

If you struggle staying under the same roof as your family, see if there are any other options. If you can’t afford a hotel or B&B, could you stay with a friend or neighbour? Perhaps you might be able to return the favour at another time.

 

If staying elsewhere is impossible, consider getting up a little earlier or going to bed a little later so that your carve out some space for yourself. Having just a few minutes a day to yourself can help you to stay sane and centred.

 

8. Talk things through

 

If you have a difficult relationship with a family member, consider having a conversation with them before the festive season arrives. If you really can’t face sharing another Christmas, find a way to say this as kindly as you can.

 

Pick your moment and choose where you talk so that you have some privacy. Find your opening and practise saying the words out loud. It’s better to face into the discomfort of having that conversation early on than to struggle with days of frustration later on. It may even clear the air in unexpected ways.

 

9.  Find other outlets

 

If you find yourself getting moody, frustrated or withdrawn, find ways to let off steam. As the poet Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

 

To help you keep your cool, find healthy ways of venting. Go for a brisk walk, do a workout at the gym or scream out loud while driving alone on the motorway. Do what it takes to have a rant in a way that doesn't jeopardise your relationship with family and friends.

 

10. Offer to help

 

Challenge yourself to make a contribution in some unexpected way. The chances are there will be a meal you can cook, a table you can clear or a child you can keep amused.

 

Sarah Rozenthuler's Life-changing Conversations: 7 strategies for talking about what matters mostIt is the season of goodwill, after all. Getting out of self-absorption and into action is not only a sure fire way to make you feel better, it will also do wonders for your relationships.

 

Sarah Rozenthuler's new book - Life-changing Conversations: 7 strategies for talking about what matters most is out now priced £8.99. Buy this book at a discount from Saga Bookshop.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Related

  • Couple at Christmas

    Top 10 seasonal stress-busters

    When the Christmas spirit starts running low, try these tips to turn down the tension

    Read on

  • Winter walking

    Natural winter energy boosters

    Humans may not hibernate like hedgehogs in winter but our bodies do slow down a little – try these top tips to rev things up a little

    Read on

  • Stress

    High anxiety: learn to stop worrying

    If anxiety is a behaviour you have learned, is it possible to 'unlearn' it?

    Read on

  • Stress

    Stress: what it does to your health

    How do you take on an enemy like stress?

    Read on

  • Family birthday

    Spot the signs of dementia

    Seeing a friend or family member after a gap, you may notice they don’t seem as mentally sharp as they were: what should you do?

    Read on

  • Vegetable soup

    Five ways to tackle SAD

    From nutrition to naturopathy, five experts tell you how to beat the winter blues

    Read on

  • Health Club

    Health Club

    Free membership and free online assessment to see how healthy you could be.

    MORE DETAILS

  • HCP thumbnail

    Health Cash Plan

    You can claim up to 75% of your common everyday healthcare expenses including dental and optical treatments.

    MORE DETAILS

  • Saga Health Insurance

    Health insurance

    A comprehensive range of competitively priced HealthPlans.

    MORE DETAILS


COMMENTS

Type your comment here


 characters remaining.

Saga Magazine

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £1 for 3 issues.

Saga Magazine e-newsletter

Sign up to our free newsletter today

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for all the latest recipes, gardening tips, prize draws, interviews and more delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Saga Magazine app

You can now read your Saga Magazine on a huge range of mobile devices - from the Kindle Fire to an iPhone or iPad.

Win with Saga Magazine

It's our birthday, but you're getting the presents!

To celebrate Saga Magazine's 30th birthday we've pulled together 30 wonderful prize giveaways worth £30,000 in total, including a holiday to India's Golden Triangle.