This is the first year that I haven’t really struggled with what I call “Christmas letdown.” There’s a huge build-up to Christmas: decorating, cooking, music, advertisements, movies, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in the need for Christmas to be amazingly special — especially if you are codependent.
Christmas can be a nightmare as things don’t go perfectly, as that “special feeling” gets swallowed up in stress and anxiety. Kids misbehave (usually at the family get together, so that you just “know” that all of your in-laws are talking about you behind your back). Presents don’t endear you to people like you hoped they would. You just can’t create that perfect “Hallmark Christmas.” You feel like you’re the only one who isn’t happy, the only one who is struggling just to get through the season.
How can you make the craziness stop?
- Breathe: I’m being serious. As you feel your sense of crazy overloading, use that as your trigger to stop for a few moments and focus on your breathing. Take in long, nourishing breaths through your nose and feel the air fill the deepest reaches of your lungs. Let the air flow out of your lungs. Really feel the goodness enter your body with each breath. You’re triggering things that are hardwired into your brain to help you reduce your stress.
- Be here, now: Last year is over. Nothing will change it. This year is all we have. Enjoy it for exactly what it is. There is good in every moment if we have the eyes to see it!
- Connect, instead of perfect: Unpacking the boxes of decorations and trimming the trees was a bittersweet time for me. It had nothing to do with the baubles I was actually holding in my hands, it was about the memories. A perfect Christmas doesn’t bring people together. People are brought together as we open our hearts and reach out to them. Look for ways to spend time with others.
- Search for the good: Christmas is one of the few holidays that still lingers after it has officially come and gone. Look for little ways that you can find the good in each day, smile at someone, do a little extra something for someone each day.
- Focus on the memories: Presents will break and wear out, family and friends will go home and return to their own lives. Memories are what we can keep. If things don’t go according to plan, laugh and help everyone have a good memory to keep.
- Acknowledge that you’re not alone: Christmas letdown is actually very common. You may feel like you are the only one, but you are not. If you’re faking a smile, you’re probably in good company.
I hope that you have already had lots of reasons to truly celebrate already this year and that tomorrow is a day filled with beautiful memories.