Christmas... a time to reflect
As December commences and the festivities begin, it is common to ponder your own personal situation and feel heightened emotions. With enormous emphasis and expectations placed upon having a wonderful time, spending irrational amounts of money and social media splashing happy families and lovers across our screens; LJ states that 'it is no wonder many people look inward and over-analyse their own lack of love, excitement, available funds or other shortcomings' and that we must reflect in a useful and self-soothing way rather than self deprecating.
We hear words about 'loneliness' around Christmas time, and can understand that as being aimed at old people and widows, sadly this is true, however we often overlook copious other people who also experience intense feeling of loss and loneliness. You may be isolated from family, geographically, emotionally or both. You may spend Christmas amongst an array of different characters, yet still experience feelings of loneliness as your mind races with thoughts you feel unable to share.
Christmas time is also a period whereby abuse statistics rise profoundly, through a toxic mixture of alcohol and substance abuse and abusive family friends and family members visiting and even staying at other peoples homes. Domestic violence and child abuse is intensified and LJ urges you to be mindful of this within your own home and to take whatever available measures you have to protect yourself and anyone vulnerable within the home.
Although Christmas is indeed a special time of year for many, LJ feels it is crucial to acknowledge and normalise the fact that, for others, it is a difficult period whereby feelings towards self are magnified and exemplified. She would like to share the following tips to manage saddening emotions throughout the month of December:
1) Remove the external idea that you must have a great time. If attending social functions and engaging in binge-drinking does not feel aligned with what your soul requires this December - listen to your body, heart and mind, and serve it well by providing yourself with a safe and healthy alternative, such as inviting a friend to your home for a more relaxed and soul-fulfilling time, or simply drop the guilt for immersing yourself into some seriously indulgent Netflix binging.
2) Drop the socially imposed idea that you must spend an amount of money that will take you to a place of financial stress. LJ shares that she feels strongly about the 'Christmas boxes' that other parents share photos of on social media in recent years. She explains that Christmas is already a financially challenging time for many, and families are socially conditioned into feeling less of a parent, aunt, human unless they conform to modern day social aspects, such as social media extroverted posts. This 'new wave culture' can lead to people purchasing elaborate, modern ideas of making Christmas special, such as Christmas Eve boxes, balloons and a room full of expensive gifts. She goes on to share that she too has 'been guilty of over-spending on her daughters at Christmas, but only when funds were available and that it is not worth compromising your own mental health as children and family members are usually happy and grateful by the thought we put in'. It is also worth noting that if someone else may kindly buy you an expensive gift, it does not mean that you need to match their level of spending! As the saying goes: "It is the thought that counts".
3) Don't get swept away in the hype. LJ elaborated on this by suggesting that should continue to do the small things within your reach that supports your mental wellness, whether that be gym classes, relaxing walks, journalling and, of course reaching out to a trusted love one or therapist if you need to offload any of the above feelings.
It might be Christmas time, but you can still focus on the fundamentals to protect your emotional energy and ares of your life that are more fragile this festive season.