As every jolly Christmas tune reminds us, the festive season is supposed to be a time for laughter, joy and general joviality. But sometimes – perhaps whilst slaving away in a hot kitchen cooking for ten of your nearest and dearest or envisioning a Christmas on your own – it may not feel like that at all. Here, Skyros co-founder, psychotherapist and author, Dina Glouberman, offers her tips for getting the most out of this, often stressful, time of year.
Remember, it is a myth that everyone else is having a wonderful Christmas but you.
Christmas is a potentially tough time for many people, including possibly you. You can still do your own personal best to enjoy it. And if there are rows, horrible silences, or any other kind of awful behaviour in your family or wherever you are, see them compassionately as symptoms of the stress of Christmas rather than as proof that you or your family are a pathetic mess!
Do not sit around on your own, unless it is the thing you most want to do in the world.
If you are not going to be with family, get in touch way in advance with anyone you like enough to be with, and make sure you line up a sociable Christmas, whatever form that might take, and whether that will be at home or abroad.
Abandon all perfectionism – Christmas is not your responsibility; it is everyone’s.
The perfect Christmas has nothing to do with doing everything perfectly! Why not make the shopping, preparation and cooking a shared communal activity? Community is what makes Skyros a happy experience. No one need drive themselves crazy with anxiety, worry, and stress.
Give your time, rather than a gift.
It is a well researched finding that giving brings more joy than receiving. So why not find a charity, like Crisis, or a place of worship, or other local organisation that helps people at Christmas and volunteer? Or perhaps, rather than sending that voucher in the post, make an arrangement to visit a friend or family member who would really love to see you.
Figure out what you yourself want from Christmas, and how to get there.
A simple Imagework technique is to imagine yourself into two possible futures – a future you feel good in, and one you feel bad in – and in each case, look back to see how you got there. So try this: Close your eyes and imagine these two future scenarios:
a. It’s the end of the Christmas season and I feel awful. Where am I, what am I wearing, and what is the awful feeling? ( Really imagine yourself there and feel in your body what the feeling is, not what it’s about) What is the main thing I feel bad about? Looking back at Christmas, what did I do to get myself to this awful place (Here, really imagine that it is the end of Christmas, and you are remembering what you did.)
b. It’s the end of the Christmas season and I feel great. Where am I, what am I wearing, what is the good feeling (again in your body)? What do I feel best about? And looking back at Christmas, what did I do differently from the first picture to get to this good feeling? (Here, be as specific as possible).
c. Which do you want? This is not a silly question; negative futures often seem easier, more familiar, and safer. So if you decide you want the first, at least you can get to the end feeling you’ve been successful at being miserable. Whichever you choose, hopefully the positive one, consider whether you are willing to do whatever you have to do to get there. Also be aware that you are not all powerful and if it doesn’t happen, something else will, and you’ll be fine.
d. Now put the picture of you in the future in a bubble, and with a big breath blow it off into the domain of potential waiting to be actualized. Or even better, imagine a bigger bubble full of everyone’s bubbles with their hopes for Christmas, and blow the whole thing into being! Then take that future feeling, and put it in your heart now. Don’t wait! Have it now.
To have the best possible Christmas you can have, you must prepare yourself, and the situation, so that it works for you. So with or without these simple tips, we truly hope that you enjoy your Christmas and that, come January, you'll be able to say those immortal words: “I did it my way.”
With our best wishes,
Dina Glouberman & The Skyros Team
Alongside facilitators, Ilene Sawka and Michael Eales, Dina will be hosting the Skyros-in-Cambodia holiday from 29 December 2011 to 8 January 2012. Stay at the picturesque Sokha Beach resort on one of Cambodia's best beach destinations, Sihanoukville, and take part in some fun, lively and interesting courses including Qi Gong, Life Skills and Creativity. See http://www.skyros.com/cambodia.htm