Christmas is a time of the year that poses a number of challenges. We are bombarded with images of happy families, bright lights, food, toys and forced jollity.
Yet a time of joy for some is a time of pain for others - there are the obvious reasons, bereavement, family breakdown, estrangement are all situations that become more focused at this time of year. Then there are the less obvious, people spending enforced time together can result in frayed nerves, the weather can have a negative effect, darkness, rain and cold. Add into the mix the seasonal illnesses that always hit at this time, colds, flu etc and the problems of overindulgence, from debt, hangovers and indigestion. It is easy to see the problems that may occur.
Here are some top tips to help you survive this Christmas.
Spend time with the people you want to be around. - Situations and responsibilities may mean that you have to spend time with people who don't leave you with a warm glow - but try and balance these times with others.
Don't try to make it perfect. - The wonderful Christmases that we see in old films are fantasy. No one is perfect, or has the perfect family. The food may be burnt or not timed to perfection - but it doesn't matter. Gran may fall asleep in the middle of the proceedings, the new Christmas toy may be abandoned or broken, you may find it impossible to please parents or in-laws. But just remember you are good enough, what you have done for Christmas is good enough. Things that go wrong will be the stories for the future when you can all laugh at them.
Don't overindulge. - Debt is a problem for a lot of people at this time of year, feeling that they need to buy that must have present, or to be the best host. Christmas is not a competition, there are always alternatives. I've been heartened to see on a local FB group that a lot of parents are buying second hand toys this year and selling last years to make room. Being sick over Christmas is no fun and that extends to hangovers and indigestion too. With hangovers prevention is better than cure, stick within your limits, have a large glass of water and orange juice before bed and keep some paracetamol handy. There is such a lovely array of tempting foods around just now, enjoy them but try to eat as much 'normal' food as possible to balance your diet. If you know that you will feel sick or have a migraine with chocolate or cheese then find something else at the buffet.
Look after yourself. - If you have succumbed to the cold or flu then don't feel that you have to force yourself to participate in the full range of activities. Maybe you can manage present opening, or dinner or one course of dinner. Maybe you have been invited out and don't want to let people down - don't feel that pressure, they won't want to have whatever is making you ill.
Be prepared. - Make sure you have supplies of any prescription drugs plus paracetamol and/or ibuprofen and indigestion / diarrhoea remedies. In all cities in the UK there is an emergency pharmacy open but better to have supplies in early.
If you are alone and would rather be with others then contact your local church or Salvation Army. It won't matter if you attend or not there will be people who will be able to meet with you or join with others for dinner.
It is OK to feel sad. There are many reasons people will be sad this Christmas, redundancy or job loss, bereavement, family break up or loved ones far away. Allow yourself to feel these emotions, they are real and a part of who you are. Take time to think and remember but think of happy times and memories too.
After all this - I genuinely wish you all joy and peace this Christmas.