This time of year can evoque a range of feelings in most of us. Whilst some of us may have a festive and positive outlook on Christmas and look forward to spending time with friends and family, for many it is a time filled with conflicting emotions. Some of us have difficult memories associated with Christmas and family gatherings. For me, this season was always associated with positive memories of my grandmother. After she recently passed away, Christmas became a reminder of her absence.
Going through sad and difficult times without ignoring or suppressing feelings can be a challenge. When working with my clients around grief, loss and relationship issues I tend to be curious and ask questions about what they are experiencing and really honour those feelings, after all, they are there for a reason. In the absence of an experienced professional to guide you through this process, here are some ideas to help you not only cope, but make the most out of a challenging time.
Listen to your body
This doesn’t mean act impulsively. It is more about listening for what the vulnerable part of you needs. This may be a hot bath with a good book, a warm drink by the fire, a nice home cooked meal or spending time with a supportive friend. It could also be a long run, or a dance or yoga class. Whatever self-care tool helps you feel well and connected.
There are many ways to spend your holidays. If you rather be on your own or spend it some place else, then why not? Just because it’s tradition for many families to gather at Christmas, it doesn’t mean you have to! If you fear that saying ‘no’ to family gatherings will upset or disappoint family members, explain that you are making a different choice this year and that you hope they will be supportive of your decision.
Spend Time Reflecting
The end of the year can be a good opportunity to review and reflect on the past year. Reflections on your present life in terms of what is going well and what could be improved on is a good starting point. Are you following your dreams and aspirations? How are you contributing to causes that you care about? What are some of your wishes for the future? Where would you like to see yourself this time next year?
Make Positive Decisions
Many people come to psychotherapy to reflect on and improve their lives with the support of an impartial other. It is never too late to become more self-aware and make significant changes in the areas of your life that you are not happy with. Whether you are experiencing grief, going through relationship issues, depression, anxiety or feeling stuck in your life, an experienced counsellor or psychotherapist will explore those feelings with you in a supportive, interested and non-judgemental way.
Wishing all a relaxing holiday and a fruitful year ahead.