Duchy Hospital are running 12 Days of Christmas Kindness this year. In aid of this, Dr Morwenna Opie, our Clinical Psychologist as written some tips to stay calm over the Christmas period.
CALM - be sure to take time to do some regular gentle deep relaxing breaths, or your favoured form of pulling in calm. A trauma colleague once told me the pulse you take first on arriving at the scene is your own. Running on adrenaline is a surefire way of making regretful impulse buys and realising Christmas went in a blur and felt more of a chore than a joy.
HELP - no one likes a martyr - and feeling over-burdened and unsupported is miserable and leaves you open to a meltdown. There are no prizes for doing it all yourself, and shared tasks can be fun .. just be prepared to lower your standard a little all you perfectionists out there! While we are on that subject ..
RELEASE unrealistic expectations of a constant ‘instagram-able’ Christmas - as Roosevelt said "comparison is the thief of all joy”. Do your Christmas, not someone else’s, and let one family not wear the matching Christmas PJs if they really don’t want to.
I AM ENOUGH - remember you are lovable and more than enough even if the turkey is chewy or you got the wrong north face jacket for your teen - you have nothing to prove - take the pressure off and try to relax and enjoy the mini-failings as part of life’s rich pattern and opportunities for growth.
SET EXPECTATIONS - establish the non-negotiable expectations you have of your loved ones (be nice to grandma, eat a token sprout etc) and they to let the rest slide - they are on holiday too and want to relax, its easy for a desire to make it ’special’ to morph into disappointment or controlling behaviour.
TIMINGS - banish that awful feeling that despite all these efforts you won’t be ready in time by making a good realistic plan (and dropping the non-essentials if you need to to make it work)
MANAGE STRONG EMOTIONS - Christmas brings up a lot, including regressing to our disgruntled 7 year old selves around family. Keep pulling in calm (see above) and working on acceptance of yourself and of others. Notice and name the emotion, allow it to be valid, and choose to let it go (at least until Boxing Day).
ACTIVITIES - try not to stop the usual daily routines and rituals that keep you on track, whether its exercise, yoga, dog walks or an afternoon nap (totally underrated) now is probably not the time to stop them.
SPARKLE - try to find some times to truly enjoy it, be present and let your authentic playful self soak in some festive sparkle.
Note : This is intended to be a light and playful list of suggestions, however some people find Christmas an incredibly challenging time. Obviously it is important to seek help if you feel unable to stay safe or to cope. This can be begun via your GP, 111, A&E, or one of the many excellent charities support those experiencing a mental health crisis.