Grump or Grinch? How to let in the Christmas Spirit without Marley’s Ghost

draft_lens2250991module12234196photo_1224646919christmas_spirit_apothecaryToday we have another Christmas thought from Jane Gotto here at the Terrace.

Firstly, we are not directing this at those who find Christmas a difficult time of year for reasons of  isolation, or depression and anxiety for example. It can be a hard, and sometimes life-threatening time of year. If this sounds like you, then please do seek help now.  There are wonderful charities out there who offer 24 hour support (such as Mind and The Samaritans for example).

But now we are speaking to those who might be, simply a ‘Christmas Grump’?

That’s ok, and you are entitled to feel that way. It can be overwhelming,  but you might want to think about what made you a ‘Christmas Grump’.    Usually there is a reason – either recent or back in your history- of being ‘made’ to feel the Christmas Spirit, or feeling you have to continue in a particular ritual without enjoying it. You may feel under an obligation to attend a regular event which evokes difficult memories.   These are all Christmas Spirit killers and understandably so.

But it is possible to lift that grumpy mood. You might want to create your own ritual – one that is personal – and connects you to who you are rather than joining the ‘Christmas Mad Rush’. This might mean paying particular attention to what is important to you; seeing special friend(s) or spending time with one or two members of your family rather than all of them.  Prepare a meal you enjoy, rather than feeling obliged to have turkey with all the trimmings, or create your own spiritual practise – meditation and or quiet time.  Take time to read a book, or watch a film that interests you. Certainly you should never feel guilty about saying you need to spend time alone if that is what you really want.

This is a time for coming together with others, cementing or building relationships but it is also about coming back to yourself, understanding what is important and getting it right for you.  In getting it right for you, it often gets it right for others too.

Anyone got other suggestions?

 

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Creating a connected circle – an Advent ritual

The Terrace Advent candle

The Terrace Advent candle

This is another Christmas tip from Jane Gotto at The Terrace – a rather special one that you could use in a family group, in a circle of friends or in a workplace.

December begins on Sunday and with it comes the thrill of the Advent Calendar. Sadly, the ritual of opening a door a day to reveal the Christmas story, or if preferred, the classic pagan and secular images of Christmas , has been overtaken somewhat by commercialised chocolate calendars. It can still be fun, but essentially it means little and can’t even evoke feelings of nostalgia for Christmas past. Of course, that nostalgia can be a sentimentalised version of the festive season and depicts a celebration many have never enjoyed. So perhaps it is time to do something different? To create a new meaning, or rekindle old feelings?

A regular December ritual of giving at The Terrace involves the distribution of Advent candles. All in the connected circle lights the candle for the day marked (being careful to blow it out as the next mark is reached!) and takes time to contemplate what this time of year means to them and the things that are important to them. It doesn’t have to be at the same time of day and no-one is checked up on so everyone loves it and feels connected through the Christmas period – thinking of each other and the year travelled, and offering a reminder of years past.

So why not pop out and buy some candles to offer to your own ‘circle’? They aren’t expensive and don’t tempt you to eat a week in one go as some of the chocolate calendars do! Perhaps some people won’t be able to engage with the idea – that doesn’t matter. It still offers them the chance to think about the people they connect with and could prompt a rekindling of relationships that have drifted over the year.

Guess who! Is a ‘Secret Santa’ a ‘stressbuster’ for the festive season?

santaSo – we are already on to Christmas Tip No. 3 and it isn’t even December yet – but have you seen how so many people are already looking frazzled, carrying bags full of gifts they are not sure anyone will even like? Have you already browsed the ‘3 for 2’ shelves in department stores, wondering who the third, ‘free’ gift might do for? Can you actually remember what you bought people last year anyway?

You wouldn’t be alone. Many people think that the best way to ease anxiety over the ‘Christmas present rush’ is write long lists and get started early. Trouble is – too many others feel the same way…..Many people aren’t present buyers anyway; some feel it is all too commercialised, or have little money to spare and are worried that their presents won’t meet expectations. What a horrible way to celebrate what should be a time for loving and giving – with the emphasis on the loving.

So – think about a Secret Santa. It may remind you of office parties but  it can be great fun, and everyone gets one present of greater value. It also means people have more time to think about what the person they have ‘drawn’ would really like. Or people can circulate a Christmas list from which the gift can be chosen.

If you are worried about the cost, discuss a price limit. When these conversations happen well in advance they can make people feel more relaxed.

How do you cope with present shopping? Is it a trial or is it an opportunity to really show appreciation for those you love? Do you get more enjoyment from buying and giving than getting anything in return?

let’s talk! & The Terrace would love to hear from you!

Keeping Christmas fresh and interesting…

freshchristmasOur second ‘Christmas Tip’ of the week, to ensure you come through the festive season healthily and with your relationships intact…

So today we ask the question – Has the Christmas ritual become stale, and boring?

Sometimes we just repeat what used to work, and wonder what has happened.

What can have happened is children have grown into teenagers, or left home, or formed their own relationships.  A family member may not be able to be there due to health or a bereavement.

Or perhaps it has just become ‘samey’, with any meaning drained out of it for you?

So think it through and see what would freshen it up; perhaps you could arrange a different venue? Could you think of a different mix of people, change the timing, or add in an ‘event’?

Now is the time to talk to everyone concerned, and doing that in good time means people can think about it themselves and come up with their own ideas. It doesn’t have to be more expensive – in fact it could be more meaningful to really think  about what part of the celebrations are most important to you.

When a ritual has become dead for one person it normally has for others too – naming it can be a relief and stimulate new ideas. You might be concerned about upsetting other people’s routine – but they may just be waiting for someone to take that step for them!

Perhaps it could be you?

Christmas tips for a healthy & happy festive season….

smythson-Christmas-cardsWell there is no getting away from it – the shops are full of sparkle. They are also full of expensive gifts we may not have the money for and are playing background music that grates like nails down a chalkboard. With only a few weeks left until Christmas we thought that our popular  ‘Relationship Tip of the week’ slot should morph seamlessly into a ‘Christmas Tip of the Week’. It can be a stressful and difficult time of the year for many people, of any faith or none.  Saying, bravely, “Well it’s just a few days,’ can end up having a detrimental affect on health, sleep and general well-being.

So here on  ‘let’s talk’ Jane Gotto is offering some sage advice to ensure our relationships have the resilience to last beyond the festive season. The top tip is not to agree to anything you do not want to do – it creates stress and there are usually alternatives which  create a happier event for everyone.  Talking through options now can smooth the way for a better time together.

So Christmas tip No.1 is:

Think about what you would like to do for Christmas.

If you are filled with dread, allow yourself time to think it through and come up with some alternatives. Talk to others about what would work for you, and find out how a change or re-organisation would affect other people. Do NOT allow yourself to be pulled into an arrangement which you know is not going to work for you. If you cannot say ‘No’ outright, say you would like some time to think about it and let the other party know a time when you will get back to them.

Jane Gotto. UKCP Reg. Psychotherapist

In future weeks, right up until the big day,we will be passing on some ideas to make sure the year ends with relationships unstrained and health intact. If you have any tips of your own to ensure the festive season retains its message of hope and peace, we would love to hear them.