By Rachel Ward Lilley | 4 December 2020
If your ideal Christmas is the traditional family get-together and all that goes with it, this year will be a disappointment. Inevitably, many of the things that make it special will be missing, so it is best to be prepared for the changes and tackle them positively by ‘resetting’ expectations. Here, in three stages, is how you might approach the task.
Stage One: Approach and attitude
Forget trying to celebrate in the usual ways: acknowledge that it will be different this year and take some time to reimagine the situation. I like to use STOP to help with this:
Stand back and take some time out.
Take a deep breath, get some oxygen up into your brain to help think rationally.
Observe openly and calmly. Look at what is possible and remain unbiased.
Perceive it positively. Take an optimistic view of your options and focus not on the losses but on what you stand to gain from the changes.
Stage Two: Plotting and planning
Drawing up a list of things to do, with a timeline, helps me feel in control. Many of the usual activities may be out of bounds this year, but that can be translated as having less stress and more time. Maybe this is the year you make your own Christmas cake – it can be satisfyingly therapeutic, after all. And you may not be going on a shopping expedition with your friends, but you can still call on them to share ideas and suggestions. Sharing is caring and kindnesses, on whatever scale, are the essence of the Christmas spirit.
We may not be able to be with all our loved ones, but we can check in with them beforehand and arrange to talk on the phone or by video link. But be sure to schedule timeslots to ensure nobody gets short shrift.
And while you’re planning your Christmas activities, don’t forget to book some time for yourself. Remember that self-care is crucial to maintaining a healthy level of mental and physical resilience, both of which are needed to manage the ups and downs of the holiday period ahead.
As for the perennially tricky question of gifts, maybe this year is a good time to take a fresh approach. Gifts don’t have to be excessively expensive or showy. As long as they touch the heart of the recipient, the job is done. Consider too that less can be more, especially in the eyes of those who are concerned about the damage done to the environment by excessive consumerism. As always, it is the thought that counts so spending time rather than money can be just as heart-warming for both parties.
Stage Three: Celebrate and enjoy
So, by resetting our expectations for Christmas, all that remains is to celebrate and enjoy it. No use, as they say, crying over spilt milk or, as they also say, every cloud has a tinsel lining.
By the way, I found this rather excellent resilience recipe for Christmas to follow:
7½ hours of sleep
10 minutes meditation or prayer
25 minutes intense exercise
2 acts of generosity
1 cuddle with dog or cat (optional)
3 dollops of joy
Blend evenly and enjoy frequently
Take daily for long-term benefit
Rachel Ward Lilley is a business and educational psychologist. She has worked for many years advising SMEs and her current work relates to issues of resilience, communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past 12 years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field. Find out more here www.rachelwl.co.uk.