5 Steps to Survive the Festive Season

5 Steps to Survive the Holiday Season

I loved Christmas as a child. My excitement for the season would build up over December as school ended and the summer holidays began. Soon illustrious holiday decorations were hanging around town, the Christmas tree would go up, and presents were being bought. Christmas was always so magical as a child. Even as I grew older and knew that Santa was just another term for my parents, I still loved to imagine his coming on Christmas morning. Christmas Day was filled to the brim with good food, good times and family, and I felt like I didn’t have a care in the world.

As I’ve grown older, Christmas has slowly lost its magic. It often feels like another thing on my hectic ‘To do’ list, and on top of managing my normal work load and everyday life, I also have to navigate the ebbs and flows that come with holiday festivities. The holidays have become more about survival than enjoyment, which if we’re honest, is not what Christmas is really about. That being said, here are 5 steps I’ll be keeping in mind this coming week so I not only survive the holidays, but can learn to love them again.

  1. Have a ‘Child like’ mindset

We all have responsibilities over Christmas, and it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of simply crossing things off our list. Next time you feel yourself tensing up, stop and remember what you loved about the holidays as a child. If you’re stressed about Christmas dinner, remember why you loved it so much growing up. Perhaps financial stress is playing on your mind? Remember how simple gifts and cards surprised you as a kid. Use the excitement to find the fun of the season again.

  1. Make time to relax

I can almost here you exclaim, “Relax over the holidays? You must be kidding!” but hear me out for a second. While you’re working tirelessly to pull off a wonderful holiday season for friends, family or colleagues, you’re neglecting yourself if you don’t pause and embrace the festivities too. Make a decision to stop working, and sit down with a family member or colleague at a Christmas party. Allow yourself to join in the banter and games that take place, and don’t be afraid to take five minutes for yourself so you can be centred.

  1. Keep things simple

I know, I know, simple and holidays don’t really go together these days, but it’s the simple things that you will remember most about the season: the smell of the Christmas tree, the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you unwrap a gift someone has put thought into, and the warmth of a loved one’s hug. Don’t try to complicate the season with too many activities, over the top expectations, and stressful tasks. Just stick to the things that matter the most and focus on them.

  1. Keep family time light

The holiday season is prime time for family conflict to come up. Passive aggressive comments can arise over dinner conversation, arguments arrive over seemingly minuscule details, and issues and circumstances that occurred years ago can rear their ugly heads and make it a day we’d rather forget. While it’s important to work through your feelings, try not to let bitterness overtake your enjoyment of the day. Choose to not take things personally, and try to respond to remarks with positivity. Monitor how long you spend in difficult conversations, and allow yourself to debrief afterward in the privacy of your own home.

  1. Avoid negative coping strategies.

Yep, your mother-in-law just made another comment about how you’re running out of time to have children, so you reach for another margarita. Or maybe the stress of your holiday workload is getting to you, so you live it up one night in an attempt to forget about it. You regret it the next day. What do these circumstances have in common? You tried to survive using negative and harmful coping strategies. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy festivities, but don’t use alcohol, substances or other unhealthy habits as a crutch. You will hurt yourself and the people around you. Instead, try to implement steps 1-4. This will help you to cope with the season, and hopefully find the magic in it again.

If you are struggling to survive the holiday season, here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

The Choice to Love

The-Choice-to-LoveThe Easter season brings together many of my favourite things; family, love and chocolate. As I reflected on this time of year and what  I wanted to share with you, the movie Chocolat came to mind. Aside from highlighting my love of chocolate, it also brought together the single most important aspect of this holiday- the choice to love.

Set in a small French village on a hill alongside a river, it is late winter/early Spring. The season of Lent is upon us, a universal Catholic tradition taken very seriously by the small community which is dominated by the Catholic Church. The town clerk resides in a building in the centre of town. In the tradition of his ancestors, he has taken on the self-proclaimed role of over sighting the political, religious and moral life of this town, and symbolises the position of authority he traditionally had in the austere lives of the town folk.

Enter a single mother, her young daughter named Anouk and her invisible kangaroo. Here begins the irony of the tale- an outsider by birth, gender, marital status, family status and religion, sets up a ‘La Choclaterie Maya’- a chocolaterie, in this town during Lent. This space gives people the courage to be themselves, and it gives them the choice to love.

Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider to a group can only admire and applaud the audacity of this woman. She is symbolic of all people who, having been marginalised for their difference, refuses to back down or walk away. For this woman, her decision to open this shop was about survival first of all. Lent or not, she had to provide for her daughter and herself, and all she had was her talent for making chocolate. Who could blame her?

The movie goes on to set up a classic style struggle between the power and authority of the church, encapsulated in the one man, and the courage of an individual who was prepared to stand her ground and stare the ‘devil’ down.

Within the struggle grows another theme: the power of one person to draw together other outsiders. A grumpy, dying old woman cut off from her grandchildren; the grandson who defies his mother's command in order to ‘reconnect’ with his grandmother, the battered wife, the lonely widower, the three spinsters, the unhappy housewife with a passionless marriage, the  husband and the ‘gypsy-king’ or ‘river-rat’ whose free spirit is a reflection of her own.

In this small chocolate shop, the woman’s skill for making chocolate, her keen intuition and her compassion for people, draws this “community of broken people”- the people who didn’t ‘fit in’ or couldn’t fit in, together. Healing begins as new relationships are built and courage is borne.

As I write this Easter blog, I am mindful that we all have our own belief, experience and rituals during the Easter season. Some of us find meaning in the celebration, mysticism and tradition of the Church, others enjoy Easter as an occasion for family and the pleasure of watching them enjoy Easter delights. It may be that opportunity to take a break, a holiday. Whatever it may means to you, I want to invite you to reflect on what I believe is a universal meaning of Easter, and that is the power of love.

Love heals us.
Love changes us into more compassionate people.

Do you feel broken?
Are you trying to fit in but never feel you do?

Do you experience a space where you can give and receive love? WatersedgeCounselling offers such a space where you can bring your brokenness and experience healing. Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

21 Ways to Beat Festive Burnout

21-Ways-to-Beat-Festive-BurnoutThe Holiday season is prime time for burn out. Our stress goes up, our to-do list is a mile long and it takes everything within us to hold our tongue. In the article ‘Banish Seasonal Stress’ by Charmaine Yabsley in Nature & Health, 21 experts in the holistic field show us how to care for our health over the holidays. Our own Colleen Morris speaks about importance of letting go of our expectations in order to live in the moment.

What other ways can we beat burnout over the holidays? Caring for our physical health and exercising helps, as does fuelling up on antioxidants and healthy foods. For those of us who love to indulge, we can still enjoy delicious food but are best to do so in moderation. Taking it easy on alcohol and being mindful of the consequences of our actions can also help us manage stress over the holidays.

How do you care for yourself over this season? Read the article here and let us know how you plan to care for your wellbeing these holidays.

If you need help and/or support  to care for yourself this holiday season, here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

The Watersedge “Go 30 Days Alcohol Free” campaign launches on January 1!

Keep an eye on watersedgecounselling.com for details.

5 Tips to Manage Stress Over the Holiday Season

5-Tips-to-Manage-Stress-Over-the-Holiday-SeasonAs much as the holiday season is full of fun and food, it invariably also involves people dynamics. This is great when we want to look like a picture perfect Hallmark greeting card of a family, but we all know this is simply not true. Below the surface of the grins, laughter and greetings of, “Look how you’ve grown!” there is often an undercurrent of stress, anxiety and misunderstanding. This is not to say we don’t love one another- we do. But whenever a group of people come together who are tightly bonded, conflict tends to surface because we are in a pressure cooker of a social situation. This knowledge alone is enough to make many of us dread festivities.

So, how do we handle stress over the holiday season and still enjoy the company of our loved ones? Here are 5 tips that can make it easier for you this December:

  1. Be prepared

If you are anxious about holiday preparation, gift shopping or seeing family, pre plan how you will go about these activities. If the stress of holiday shopping is traumatic for you, arrange for a friend to go with you and go earlier in the season to save yourself from the Christmas rush. In the same way, plan how and when you will decorate, prepare Christmas dinner and schedule in how long you will see Great Aunt Susie.

  1. Don’t make assumptions

Granted, it is hard not to pre-empt what other family members will think, do or say during the holidays, but if they have not vocalised a concern to you themselves, try not to assume their behaviour is an attack or criticism of you. You’ll find festivities a lot more enjoyable when you take people at their word rather than questioning the intent behind their questions and statements.

  1. Don’t create conflict

It sounds strange, but often when we feel stressed and out of place we can make sarcastic remarks, begin topical conversations and try and bait our relatives. There is certainly a healthy and humorous side to this, bit when this sarcasm is creating conflict and propelling the tension in the room, it is smart to hold back. Just because you are aware of a conflict no one is talking about, doesn’t mean you need to bring it up on Christmas Day.

  1. Deal with conflict

The amount of relationship issues and differences of opinion that arise over the holiday season can be astronomical. While we don’t want to create conflict by stirring the pot and bringing these out to the open, it is still important we actually deal with these issues. If you feel able to, meet with your family member one on one and discuss your concerns in an honest and loving way before Christmas Day. If you realise that this is useless and could in fact create more tension in your family, then perhaps you need to look at how you respond to that family member in order to keep conflict at bay and to protect yourself.

  1. Believe for the best

Instead of dreading holiday festivities, come with a positive mindset that things are going to work out. Speak positive affirmations to yourself like, “I am capable of doing this,” “I have control of this situation,” or “This moment will pass.” Share your concerns with your partner or a family member you are close to. Ultimately, remember that this is only a few weeks in the year and it will pass.

If you need help and/or support  in your couple relationship as you approach this holiday season, you can contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a free 10 minute consultation or book online now by going to the button marked ONLINE BOOKING.