For many people, Christmas is a time of family and fun. For others, it is a time of loneliness and loss. Do you ever think that everyone except you will be part of a rosy family group gathering around a perfectly basted turkey on Christmas Day? Be assured—even in these seemingly idyllic family scenes we glimpse though lounge room windows, difficult feelings are likely to be bubbling up along with the Christmas cheer. The reality is, every family has its tensions and pressure points—and Christmas can be a powerful trigger.
However you plan to spend Christmas Day, it is worth doing some thinking in advance about your self-care on that day. Here’s an empowering thought to consider: What if how you experience Christmas Day is largely influenced by how you decide to experience it?
A lot of planning and preparation often goes into the logistics of Christmas Day—the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking, the gifts, the scheduling of who goes where when. But it is worth doing some inner planning and preparation as well. Why? Because effective self-care—taking care of your own physical, mental and emotional wellbeing—is supported by the preparation you do in advance.
Here are three cards from our upcoming Self-Care Cards to offer some ideas.
MEANING (What gives your life meaning? Where do your values and beliefs come from?)
We humans have the capacity—some say, the responsibility—to ‘make’ meaning rather than waiting passively for meaning to arrive. In his book The Van Gogh Blues, Eric Maisel calls depression a ‘meaning crisis’ and says we must rush to our own aid by making meaning. Making meaning is connected to our values. If you value spirituality then Christmas Day might have a spiritual meaning you can focus on. If you value being a generous person then it may be meaningful to you to give a gift, regardless of how it is received or whether you get a gift in return.
CELEBRATE (What is worth celebrating? What are you most proud of?)
Even if Christmas Day is fraught with all kinds of dynamics, what can you find to celebrate about your family, the people you are with, your outer surroundings? You could choose to appreciate small details like the colour of the strawberries or the pillow softness of whipped cream or the smell of Christmas spices. Or could you celebrate that you have simply managed to travel through another year? (You know how much courage and effort that took.) Could you celebrate one thing that went well during the year, one accomplishment, no matter how small?
NATURE (How important is spending time in nature for you? What is your favourite outdoor place?)
Humans have sought solace in nature since time immemorial. Whether you are with others or alone on Christmas Day, how can you connect with nature? Can you go outside, take a walk, listen to the sound of birds? If you can’t go outside, is there a vase of flowers, a pot plant or even a picture you can look at? Describe something you see (like a tree, cloud or flower) in great detail to yourself, as if to someone who is blind. Perhaps you could even sketch it? At some point on Christmas Day, look up at the sky, taking in its vastness. Watch carefully for how this may bring a little more spaciousness to your inner landscape.
St Luke’s Innovative Resources