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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…But not for everyone

You only need to know me for a short period of time to know that I am the biggest fan of Christmas. I love it. I always have. I pretty much turn into a Christmas elf from 1st December right through until midnight on the 25th (you may remember this from my December blog last year) It’s the happiest time of year for me, but that doesn’t mean it is for everyone.

December can be a really difficult time for people that struggle with mental ill health and for those people that don’t celebrate Christmas, it can be a hard holiday to escape. It’s everywhere and even with our best intentions it’s not always easy to block out what’s happening around you. Even though I love it, I do understand why this time of year is hard. 

Whether we like it or not, there is a pressure that comes with Christmas. The financial pressure of buying your loved ones gifts. Pressure of giving when you don’t have much to give. The pressure of comparing with others. The pressure of having the “perfect” Christmas (whatever that means) Pressure of cooking Christmas dinner or the pressure of deciding what family members you can or can’t visit. Pressure of appearing to be ‘enjoying yourself’ even when that may not be your reality. The pressure of having social plans or finding people to spend time with. It can be extremely lonely and isolating, even for those of us that are surrounded by people. Can you imagine how it feels for those that don’t have that caring network? The people that are unwell or those that don’t have a home. The list goes on. 

Even me, someone who is a self-confessed Christmas addict, has experienced these feelings. I’ve found it difficult; I’ve felt guilty and have felt pressure to make Christmas the best it can be for my loved ones. It’s been the cause of anxiety for me in the past and I’m okay with admitting that. If we all spoke about our struggles and communicated about how we were feeling, the external pressures may start to ease. It’s okay to not love the festive season. It’s ‘normal’ to have heightened feelings of anxiety, stress, guilty or loneliness. The truth is, there are lots of things that can make this anything but, the most wonderful time of year. 

But, if we stop for a moment and allow ourselves the space to feel calm, we can find a Christmas that we all love. Now, I’m not saying you’re going to dress head to toe in tinsel and live your life in a musical melody of cheesy Christmas songs, but you can find something that works for you. For me, Christmas spirit comes from the small traditions that you make yourself. It comes from finding the joy in the small things, the lights, a hot chocolate, fluffy socks or the glowy smile you get as you pass strangers on a Christmas eve walk. If you look past the loud, busy surface, you can find these small things. Arguably, the best things. Yes, the parties, the gifts and the celebrations are nice but these aren’t the things we remember. The best Christmas memories are created in the small insignificant moments. 

If you’ve seen the film ‘The Polar Express’ you may remember this quote. “Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe” This is how Christmas feels for me. You don’t need to be a child to enjoy Christmas. You don’t even need to enjoy Christmas to enjoy Christmas. You just need to find the things that you do enjoy and make them part of your tradition. If you do that, you’ll always hear the bell.

One holiday can’t take away our problems. We can’t expect negative feelings to disappear at the sight of Santa. That’s unrealistic. But we can control how we choose to spend this season. So, this Christmas why not give yourself the gift of putting YOU first. Make yourself your priority. Make your happiness your Christmas tradition. 

Merry Christmas. Nadolig Llawen. 

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