I adore Christmas, I adore the festivity… the family time… the Christmas smells (I cannot get enough of gingerbread, or mulled wine, or, quite frankly, any Christmassy spice), Christmas songs (they’ve been on since October I’m not going to lie), Christmas lights, Christmas decorations, Christmas PJs, Christmas socks, Christmas pants… the word ‘Christmas’ (okay, have I mentioned it enough yet??)
Christmas can be such a joyful time of the year, filled with festivities, food (hellooo pigs in blankets!!), parties and time with the people you cherish most. However, for some people, it can also be one of the hardest times of the year. Christmas can bring about feelings of obligation, social pressure and extreme guilt. Some people may experience loneliness and isolation. Others may find the disruption to their routines destabilising. Christmas can be beautiful and Christmas can be exhausting.
Let me lay out the expectation… we HAVE to feel happy and ‘jolly’ 24/7. We CANNOT feel down or upset. We HAVE to be brimming with excitement… But, realistically, for some of us that doesn’t happen, does it? So, what’s wrong? Is it me? Is it my fault?
Having suffered with an eating disorder for 11 years, I find that Christmas brings about mixed feelings for me. Like I said earlier, (in case you missed it), I adore this time of year. But, it is also daunting. In every aspect, it is daunting. The food situation can be scary, terrifying… scary and terrifying. Family gatherings can be difficult, what will people say? How will they react to me? Friends often talk about their ‘New Years’ diet (erm, hi there, not so helpful). Presents… for someone who finds it difficult to feel worthy of food, the idea of receiving gifts that someone has put thought and effort into creating scares me just as much. Guilt… And then there’s the guilt, why can I not accept food? Or presents? Or feel worthy of actually enjoying life? The list goes on…
Why do I feel the need to place this pressure on myself?
Christmas does NOT have to be perfect.
Christmas is about spending time with the people you love the most; who also love you the most. Christmas is about creating memories. And, Christmas 2019 is going to be one to remember, for all the right reasons, for all the love and laughter, for the weird family conversations, and games of hide & seek (yes, it is a thing in the Robinson household)… Christmas is not a time to place pressure on yourself. Or anyone else. Christmas is a day like any other. It has 24 hours. Each hour contains 60 minutes. Each minute 60 seconds. And, you can survive it. You WILL survive it.
And, just in case, here is a list of things that I often find useful:
- Turn the volume down on the internal critic
- Let yourself be the way you feel
- Have a Christmas that works for you
- Remember that You are loved. YOU are worth it
- Give yourself permission to be you
- Think of it as your rest day
- Balance your sense of social obligations against your need for self-care
- Challenge the assumption that anything ‘needs’ to happen over Christmas
- Give yourself permission to say no
- Let family and friends know that you will need time out for quiet and calm
- Write down what is really important to you
- Prioritise and tackle tasks one at a time
- Be mindful of how your routine is about to change
- Create your own experiences and happiness. Be indulgent. Pamper yourself.
And remember, you ARE number one. You deserve happiness. YOU deserve to enjoy yourself.
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