One-Eighty’s Christmas Wellbeing Toolkit
Christmas is often coined as a magical time of year, and as a result, it can sometimes feel as if there is an ever mounting pressure to spread the happiness and joy. This pressure for fun can sometimes have the opposite effect, and result in the guilt provoking winter blues come the January sales. So, at One-Eighty, we are exploring just how we can balance between the festive enjoyment, and positive wellbeing.
Idealistic TV adverts, Christmas themed filters on social media, endless Christmas music in every public place is a recipe for engaging in some hard core comparison in how you are spending your festive season. Sad and angry can often feel like rude works at this time of year, however regardless of all the positive festivities that occur over Christmas, in true Bad Moms Christmas style, it’s an unrealistic expectation of anyone to have the perfect Christmas we feel obligated to enjoy. When thinking about Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, the converted ‘Christmas Joy’ is simply unsustainable, and it is important to recognise negative and uncomfortable feelings are a natural human experience, regardless of it being Christmas. The issue is, when force feed media that suggests the season is jolly, and anything else is unacceptable, these natural lows can then trigger a sense of failure. In addition to this, the nature of togetherness and family, that comes hand in hand with Christmas celebrations, can trigger difficult feelings of loss, and have the opposite impact of isolating some of those around us.
So, despite the perks of presents, pigs in blankets, and funny jumpers, Christmas is difficult, and it’s important to look after yourself just as much now as any other time of year. But this is no easy feat, the odds can feel like they are against you. So, here at One-Eighty, we’ve compiled a Christmas Toolkit for you to support yourself and those around you, at this frankly odd time of year:
Meet your Social Needs
As previously mentioned, Christmas is often referred to as a time for people to come together. Adverts are filled with vast amount of people attempting to sit around a table, sitting on anything remotely chair like, because you definitely have more close loved ones then chairs in your life. On top of this, despite the lack of chairs, everybody is having a fantastic time because you’re together, and well, it’s Christmas? Of course not, this is one type of Christmas, in no means is the ‘right way’ to enjoy Christmas. For some, the thought of a crowded space, filled with noise, and conversation with someone you haven’t seen in over a year is a rather unpleasant concept – and that’s okay! What’s important is to recognise what you would like at Christmas, and not feel pressure, or pressure others into enjoying the festivities. Perhaps there has been a family breakdown, divorce, or bereavement? Perhaps your loved one works shifts and has to be away at Christmas – all of which are things that make Christmas a very isolating time.
If you are feeling isolated: there are many ways to reach out for connection this festive season! Volunteering at a shelter or local day centre could be a great place to start, not only providing companionship, but also offering a sense of giving on a gift orientated day! Failing that, the #joinin movement, is a hashtag on twitter used to bring together those who need a bit of company on Christmas Day, and is joined by the likes of comedian Sarah Millican. There are many gatherings welcome to everyone, including church services, and community centres, all welcoming anyone who would like to share their day with others.
Alternatively, maybe the social stress and mingling pressure is too much? There is no shame in acknowledging and respecting your own boundaries. Perhaps you’ve been invited out, and you decided you’ll go, but won’t stay over? Perhaps you opt for a small Christmas with only one or two people, where you forgo the Turkey for a Chinese takeaway in front of the Telly? Or perhaps you decide Christmas isn’t your thing – and if that’s what you need, that’s is okay and you deserve the Christmas you would like.
It’s important to acknowledge your needs, and proactively strive to meet them. Perhaps, for those around you who aren’t able to identify what they would like, or don’t feel able to do what is in their best interests, empower them to know what they want from the holiday is valid, and perhaps that the ‘Christmas Magic’ doesn’t necessarily look the same for every person.
Fear of Missing Out
We’ve all heard the warnings of too much social media, and the comparison trap holes that we can fall in to. It can be really difficult to sit and scroll through pictures from the Christmas Party that you couldn’t go to, seeing everyone have lots of fun, without you? It is similarly unpleasant scrolling through Instagram - observing fifteen smiley faces sat around a Christmas dinner, laughing at how cute the latest addition to the family looks with a face filter on. And whilst you’re feeling jealous comparing your lives, they sit there looking at your photos of a cup of tea in a Christmas mug, envious of the peace and tranquillity, despairing at the family’s latest addition crying over the noise from the same Christmas movie their uncle makes the family watch every single year.
Neither are perfect… but both are valid and special moments. It’s a very uncomfortable but easy feeling to feel like a ‘Christmas Failure’. Not being able to keep everyone happy, or feeling, ‘oh gosh did I get worse presents for them than they did for me?’. We all know that people only put the ‘best bits’ online, why would you advertise the burnt parsnips and that stinking headache to the world? Especially as everyone else is having such an amazing time. What’s important is that you can’t fail at Christmas… in the same capacity that you can’t fail at Tuesdays. Your Instagram grid, Snapchat story and Facebook profile have absolutely no relevance to your worth as a person, or how nice a time you are having. It’s lovely to share with others, to capture a moment and treasure it, but whether or not you share that moment makes it no more or less real?
A tasty bit of turkey, is always a tasty bit of turkey, regardless of its online presence, so try staying off social media this Christmas (easier said than done), not only for your own wellbeing, but for others too, share messages and kindness opposed to #bestchristmasever. Be mindful of your present moment, and if you are online, and you do see those images that give you that sinking feeling, ask yourself, how much time out of their day do you think it took to get that filter, that lighting, that perfectly witty caption, to be just right?’, and then think ‘how many mince pies could I eat in that time…?’
Finally, we are all creatures of habit. Be it in the mug we like to drink from, the order in which we eat our dinner, or the parking space we always strive to park in. We fill life with little familiarities in order to make our days that bit more comfortable and feel a bit safer. With this in mind, Christmas doesn’t lend itself to routine, every Christmas is different, and even more so, every day of the season can be really different as well. This chaotic one day to the next, constant change can be exhausting to maintain. In addition to that, then involve the limited amount of sleep, present related cash flow problems, frequent alcohol consumption, and far from a regular diet, results in a far from relaxing holiday experience – as you are left both physically and mentally frazzled! So here at One-Eighty we endeavour to maintain our Self – Care, despite the interruption Christmas has on our day to day lives, but perhaps with a festive twist. Here’s some of the team’s favourite ways to looking after themselves of the Christmas:
Mindful Eating ‘I make a little ritual of opening my advent calendar, it’s a couple of minutes every morning, alone in peace, where I just sit with my coffee, and enjoy a tiny chocolate to kick start my day!’
Scented Candles ‘I love candles, and so at Christmas my house is fully of them and it’s really relaxing!’
Spending time with your pets: ‘I dress up my dog at Christmas in a Christmas jumper, it gets a laugh out of everyone’
Wear clothes you are comfortable in ‘In the office we wear Christmas jumpers every Monday in December, I love my Christmas jumper, it’s like a festive hug all day. I even started a week early because it’s that comfortable’
Gratitude ‘It’s kind of obvious but just acknowledging the things that people do for you this time of year always make me want to help someone else’
Me time ‘If I’m in a bad mood, lay on the sofa and put rubbish TV on. It sounds weird but it’s just how I relax and forget everything. This Christmas lights in the lounge make it even better too.’
Bubble Bath ‘I always find Christmas is a great excuse to have a bath and relax, if for nothing other than to make a start getting through the toiletries gifts’