If Christmas carols make your ears bleed (metaphorically speaking), and the thought of Christmas day makes your whole-body cringe, you are in a safe space here. We understand Christmas is not the merry day they sing about, and the happiness of a commercialised family image doesn’t exist in most people’s lives. Truth is, it can be quite triggering for many people – even that crazy family member that is always lecturing people on what they should do.
Your safety and wellbeing is the most important thing. So, we are going to highlight some hot tips for surviving Christmas this year. Hopefully this year can be an enjoyable experience and by the end of the day you will have moments to be grateful for.
What will your Christmas day look like?
Maybe you are lucky and having a friendmas and will be able to celebrate with people you love. Maybe you will be with the family and that can be great for some, daunting for others. Maybe you are not doing anything. However you will be spending the day, these tips can come in handy regardless.
- Regulation – take a breath
As we discussed the window of tolerance, this can be super relevant for Christmas day. If you find yourself in a situation that is uncomfortable or you can feel yourself starting to creep towards the outer frame of your window, take yourself away and take a breath. Excuse yourself from whatever is happening and find a quiet place you can regulate yourself however you need. Ask yourself what you need in that moment. When there is no place to hide, go to the bathroom and either take some nice deep breaths, or you could shake it out, throw your arms up in the air, pull faces and expel the pent up energy (or anger typically from something someone said). There is no right or wrong way to regulate but there are plenty of techniques out there to help.
- Don’t take it personally
(Audrey Reille, 2019)
The four agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, are some great values to live by. One of which is to not take it personally. Maybe someone is saying something really dumb or insulting or cringe-worthy. Just let it roll like water off a ducks back. You do not need to defend yourself. You do not need to explain yourself, your life choices, your food choices or anything. You do not need to educate them. You do not need to be anyone other than yourself. If you find yourself in a situation or conversation you do not want to be a part of, deflect the attention away from the topic. You just need to get through the day, so why not make it as fun as possible. If you need to, go back to tip one and regulate. When we are in our optimal zone, it is a lot easier to withstand discomfort without it being too much.
- Safety plan
If you feel you need an easy escape incase things go haywire, just leave. Or you could have a code word with a friend to call you for an ‘emergency’ and get out of there.
You may wish to show up before or after the lunch to make your appearance and enjoy some time with the family. You do not need to do more than you want to.
- Be yourself
You are awesome. You are perfect. You are enough. You are you and you are irreplaceable.
You are allowed to have boundaries and you deserve to have them respected. You do not need to be anyone other than who you are and if people at the event cannot see them, that sounds like a them problem, not a you problem. You may feel like you need to present a certain way or mask certain behaviours, but at the end of the day, you deserve to be loved and respected for being you.
- Bring your own food
If the food is the most daunting part about Christmas and you would like to sit and eat with everyone without it being uncomfortable, bring your own food, maybe something to share if you feel inclined. You could also team up with a trusted family member and discuss what you need in order to feel comfortable at the table.
Christmas is a time to come together and celebrate. So, we hope that these tips may help make the day more enjoyable and less daunting or triggering. Personally, Christmas has always triggered the need to mask or the need to present a certain way to fit into an idea of who I am supposed to be instead of who I am. The year I allowed myself to be me, to show up and be present, was the year I actually enjoyed Christmas. It did not matter if I copped a lecture around what I should do, because they do not know what is best for me. In my case, their lectures came from a place of love but that doesn’t mean it had any significance or truth in application to my life. I let them say what they wanted to say and said, “thank you,” before changing the topic to something more enjoyable. If someone wanted to insult me, I just thanked them. I had so many toilet breaks to take a breath and regulate, but for the first time, Christmas was no longer daunting. I hope you find something in this post that can help you find that same sense of relief and have the power to enjoy the day. Once I started showing up authentically and with strong boundaries, everything changed. It actually does not matter what anyone else thinks of me or my life, it matters how I feel. So with that, I wish you a merry christmas and may it be authentically awesome, may you be able to breath through the moments that aren’t so sparkly and may you have the power to find the enjoyment in the little things.
If you are worried about Christmas or would like to talk through creating a safety plan for the day, please reach out to our team members here.
This article was written by Olivia Bridges, you can learn more about Olivia here.