DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
We talk to psychotherapist Corinne Sweet about how to have a happier Christmas
“Not enjoying Christmas is a very common theme,” says Corinne. But rather than feeling that it’s something you have to get through, she has some strategies to bring some joy back to the season.
If you feel pressure to spend it with relatives or in-laws rather than your own family or partner, Corinne says to put yourself rst. “A couple has to nurture their own relationship. Decide what you are going to do in advance and communicate it in a level way, without feeling like you have to justify yourself or blame others. You can still take part in the Christmas pleasantries by sending cards, or arranging Skype sessions and making plans to see family either side of Christmas, but you have to listen to your gut and do what feels right.”
If you’ve su ered bereavement, Corinne says it’s about starting new traditions. “If you’ve always done things with a certain family member, start doing them with someone else. You can move on while honouring loved ones in a joyful way: make a memory tree, raise a toast to them, have their photo on the mantelpiece. You might consider bereavement counselling too.”
If Christmas is a lonely and isolating time, Corinne recommends volunteering. “It’s the old adage: go and do something for someone who needs it more than you,” Corinne says. “If the same patterns keep repeating around Christmas, it might be worth getting some therapy to explore what happens over that period. You could do something in the New Year, like joining a painting class, where you meet new people.”
If you’re dealing with a debilitating illness, have an ally. “Don’t expect everyone to understand, it’s a waste of your energy,” says Corinne. “You just need one person, a family member or friend, who understands and can help you get the time you need. Set up a Christmas you feel comfortable with. If you need to rest on the sofa, so be it.”
Taking charge of your Christmas is a theme Corinne says applies to all of us. “It’s always hyped up to the eyeballs to be perfect, but we have to get the Christmas we want and need,” she says. “Don’t worry about saying no to things. If people take o ence they’re probably trying to control you. It’s much better to do things from genuinely wanting to be there, rather than feeling resentful and exhausted. Whether you’re religious or not, treat Christmas as a break. Do what makes sense to you and your budget. We have enough stress in our daily lives. If you want to hunker down and have a duvet day in front of the telly, do it. People want to do di erent things and it’s time we accepted that.” Corinne is a psychotherapist, broadcaster and author of 14 books including The Mindfulness Journal and The Anxiety Journal (www.corinnesweet.com).