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Don’t Go Crackers this Christmas


Good will to all men? (and women!)

The season of good will seems to have the opposite effect on some people. The cost, family demands, unmanaged expectations, visits made out of duty topped off with over-indulgence and sheer exhaustion can result in stress levels going through the roof - and the odd blown fuse. But it doesn't have to be like that and we can prepare for the demands of Christmas with a little thought and foresight.

Festive stress requires the same coping skills as dealing with any other stress. One difference between people who are resilient under stress and those who aren't is how they interpret and respond to events. The more resilient have usually worked out some sense of meaning in their lives that enables them to approach challenges with purpose.

How we respond – and how much we are able to enjoy Christmas – depends on our level of positive resilience and our ability to react purposefully to any stressful event. Resilience can be cultivated (we run a great resilience workshop on it), so understanding what drives us and developing the habits that will help us bounce back rather than crumple could be a Christmas gift to ourselves that we'll use all year round.

Meaning and Purpose

Anything we do or are involved in needs to have purpose and meaning if we are to find it fulfilling. Martin Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology movement calls meaning and purpose 'the peaks of lasting fulfilment'.

These two are often confused; purpose is the goal, the end to be attained, whereas meaning is a larger concept – how we understand life or events on an ongoing basis. Neither of these is decided by anyone else, they are personal, gained from experience, reflection and choice.

What's important?

Taking time each day to reflect on what's important to us is a good first step. Understanding the link between how our perspective on life plays a part in how we experience life is the next. We can make life satisfying so that even demands on us that we might otherwise find stressful can be managed in a more fulfilling way, even at Christmas.

So, our top tips for building resilience and avoiding stress this Christmas:

1. Think about what Christmas means to YOU.

Think about what Christmas means to you – which may or may not be about religion – why do you give gifts, or arrange family time etc. Keeping the purpose in mind makes it all worthwhile.

2. Think Positive

A little bit of optimism and positive thinking goes a long way. Think about positive Christmases you have had in the past and let them give you reason to be optimistic for the future.

3. Manage Your Family Time

Either with friends or with relatives, it is good to know your limits and know how long you want to spend with others or just with your immediate circle. Remember from previous years what you loved and what caused you stress and only agree to the good stuff.

4. Prioritise

Before you find yourself tied up with too many activities and obligations, decide what activities have a positive influence on you and offer you something important and which ones don't. Only choose the ones that are important to you and enjoy them.

5. Be Realistic

Not being able to meet the sometimes-excessive expectations of the festive season can create feelings of stress and depression, so be realistic about what you can and can't do.

We hope you'll be able to use these tips to have a peaceful and very happy festive season.

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