When we say ‘Christmas’, what comes to mind? It is family? Festive Movies? Delicious food? Or giving gifts?
For many of us, the festive season is a time to cherish; to spend time with loved ones and take a break- but this isn’t the case for everyone.
For some, the holidays can be a really tough time for a multitude of reasons, and that’s totally fine. It’s important to remember not to pressure yourself into having a good time and to be kind to yourself this festive season.
Today, we’re going to run you through a few different reason why the holidays might be tough for certain people in the hopes that we can offer some advice or even just spread awareness. Firstly, a trigger warning: today we’ll be discussing some difficult topics so if you’re triggered by reference to food/family issues/grief or financial struggle, then be cautions reading on.
Christmas is synonymous with an abundance of delicious foods and indulging in all the stuff you love. Whilst this can be a dream come true for some, many people who have experienced some sort of disordered eating can find this extremely difficult. Then can feel panicked with the pressure to eat a certain amount, stressed at the idea of eating a full meal in front of large groups, or even enjoy the food in the moment and then suffer from serious post-food guilt.
Something we can all do to avoid inflicting these feelings on someone else is to simply keep your comments to yourself. Don’t comment on how much someone else at the dinner table has eaten/hasn’t eaten. Don’t comment on whether they’re looking bigger or smaller than the last time you saw them. Don’t pressure them by continuing to offer them food.
If you’re struggling with your habits around food over the holidays, remember to be gentle with yourself. Remember that one day of indulgence isn’t going to make a difference. Remember that life is about enjoyment, and if you enjoy food, it’s not a sin. Finally, remember that you are worthy of the food you eat, and your body deserves to be fuelled.
Family issues/Losing someone at Christmas.
If you asked me what my favourite thing about Christmas was, I’d probably say catching up and spending time with family. However, I’m very aware that this is certainly not the case for a lot of people. Families are dysfunctional, they argue, they have problems, and it’s very much okay to admit to yourself that spending time with your family is hard. It’s also okay just to ‘tolerate Christmas, to just ‘get through’ Christmas rather than actively enjoying it.
Christmas can also harbour difficult memories for some people. For those who have lost someone around the holidays; who have a sick relative; who are experiencing divorce- Christmas can be traumatic. If you need to spend Christmas day alone, if you need to spend it grieving, that’s totally fine. Don’t pressure yourself hun, do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
This one is more common than you might think. Christmas is EXPENSIVE. From decorations to events, and don’t even get me started on the gifts- for those who are struggling to make ends meet, Christmas can be a really stressful time. It’s even harder when you see people around you splashing the cash buying expensive gifts: there are a few ways you can save some cash this Christmas.
If you’re creative: why not try your hand at making gifts? Create home-made bath soaks; draw something meaningful or bake a delicious dessert: people will appreciate the time and effort you put in to make the gift extra-special. If you’re concerned about people spending more on you than you can afford to spend on them, don’t be afraid to set a spending limit with your family and friends to make yourself feel a little more comfortable.
Working in retail
If you know, you know. There’s something about the festive season that makes people legitimately CRAZY, and retail workers are usually take the brunt of it. If you don’t work in retail, please take the time to be extra nice to those who are: say please and thank you, give them a smile and don’t get unnecessarily agitated. They’re probably working long, busy hours, on weekends and over public holidays, so give them a damn break.
If you’re working in retail, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Stay strong and be patient, it’ll all be over soon.
If you're looking to just have a more positive experience this Christmas, here are a few tips on making the festive season more enjoyable:
-Stay off your phone: Social media can be toxic and it's easy to compare yourself and your experiences to others. Take time away from your phone to avoid comparison and be in the moment.
-Prioritise self care: Christmas is a busy tome for socialising, but taking tine for yourself and practising self care is super important. Take time out to breathe and relax, don't feel guilty for taking you-time.
-Don't feel guilty for indulging: Eat chocolate for breakfast, nap on the lounge, spend an entire day binging cheesing Christmas films. Relax and don't guilt trip yourself for not answering your emails or finishing that book you promised yourself you' get through.
-Don't be afraid to seek help. If you're struggling to cope, ready out to a friend or family member or even a free helpline such as Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636. Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Merry Christmas one and all, and remember: don’t be too hard on yourself this festive season, Hun.
Words by Ellen Walker. @ellenwalker1