Please note, if you are reading this and not looking forward to Christmas, you are certainly not on your own on this one.  It can feel like that, it can feel like everyone else has something organised and to look forward to, but I promise you it is not the case…

For the last couple of weeks I have been having conversations with clients around Christmas, whether it be about spending it on their own, or the memories or pain that it brings up for them.  I have also had people message me for ideas around getting through it, so thought I would put some of them down here for you.

  1. Some of my clients have decided to plan something in January to look forward to, whether that is a belated trip to relatives, or a road trip of their own, so if someone asks what they are doing for Christmas, they can respond “a quiet one, but I am looking forward to going away in January,” to divert the conversation away from Christmas itself.
  2. Another client I know has booked a road trip for herself, not denying that it is Christmas, but to ensure that she is not sitting there thinking of family abroad, but instead connecting with two passions of hers, travel and curiosity.  Just as much fulfilment can be got from exploring our local area, it doesn’t need to be big trips.  What are those places nearby that you keep meaning to check out?
  3. When I was on my own for Christmas Day last year, two things made a real difference for me.  Firstly I got some yummy food in, I wasn’t trying to replicate a Christmas meal, just got in some favourites.  Secondly, I went to the warehouse and got in some painting supplies and lost myself for the whole afternoon, painting and creating.  Had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  Is there something creative or something that interests you, that you can do that maybe you haven’t had the time for recently?  Some baking, a jigsaw, movie marathon, something out in the garden.
  4. Talking of creative things, I loved the suggestion from Katy, one of our support workers at Taranaki Retreat, who came up with the idea of low-budget presents – printing out photos and popping them in secondhand frames from op shops.  These can either be presents or a project that you can get creative with for yourself!
  5. What is on?  There can be community meals or other events going on, either on the day, or leading up to Christmas, where we can connect with others and be part of something.
  6. Try and avoid comparing with how Christmas used to be, or how you wish it was and work towards accepting that Christmas is different this year, no right, no wrong, just different, whether that’s how you spend your time, what you do, what you eat.  Maybe it is the year you just have desserts for lunch, that you decide to paint the bathroom, that you finish off a project, start a project, clear out the shed, go for a hike, make it your day.  Let go of what it ‘should’ look like, what society tells us it is meant to be.
  7. Another client has been totally committed to the coaching journey we have been on for the last few months, has got his head around Christmas, and is also comforted knowing that so much is changing for him, that this will be the last Christmas he will be struggling with it.  Christmas of 2016, although I was with family back in the UK, I was not in a great place, and I made the promise to myself that Christmas 2017 would be very different.  Christmas 2017 saw me out of debt, on the start of a NZ tiki tour, and in a much different headspace.  What will 2021 and Christmas 2021 look like for you?  Can you start thinking of what can be changed or tweaked to get there?   What would need to happen to make Christmas 2021 different?  What would need to happen to make the year different?
  8. Be amongst people.  When I was self-isolating last week, I was allowed to go out for walks, and so I would head out and buy a large take away tea, and sit and people watch, and it felt good to be amongst people rather than sitting on my own.  What could that look like for you, is it a carol concert, a church service, is there something online, some will go to the library and read there to be around people, down to the walkway, the beach.  Yes, you may see others with their friends, but you may be able to feed off that buzz by being out and about, as opposed to tucked away.
  9. If you have had an invitation or someone has said about popping round, say yes!  We can actually get caught in a trap of saying no to things and self-fulfilling some of our negative stories, when things could be very different if we said yes, or yes I will pop round for an hour, or I won’t interrupt your main meal, but are you up for a cuppa on Christmas Eve or a walk on Boxing Day or whatever it might be…
  10. Can you volunteer?  Maybe it is at one of those Christmas lunches or events, or something else entirely.  It may be a one off request for volunteers that you respond to, or it may be something that you can support ongoing, and who knows where that may take you in 2021!  Don’t forget I had only planned to coach at Taranaki Retreat for three months, that was  nearly 2.5 years ago, and look at what opportunities that has brought me!
  11. Who do you know?  Have a think, who else might be in a similar position to you that you can do something with, eat, take a walk, watch a movie, have a swim.  There may well be more people alone this year due to travel restrictions etc, so have a think, reach out.  You may get nos, but the fact that you thought of them and asked will mean the world.  Remember with the online world opening up even more this year, think of others further afield that you could connect with, have a virtual coffee with or even a meal,  a good old chinwag either way!
  12. You may feel alone in these upcoming weeks, but there are options, and it may well be, that it is having a chat to someone on the end of a helpline that will help you get through this day.  You do not have to do it on your own.

Please remember, this too will pass.  As I often talk about, in any given moment, we can come from a place of fear or a place of love.  Be gentle on yourself, choose the things that are kindest for yourself right now.

If you have any further thoughts or ideas, please do comment and share them below.

P.S. If you are reading this and have Christmas organised with loved ones, maybe spare a thought for those that don’t.  Is there someone you can reach out to, connect with, or invite.  It may not be on Christmas Day itself, but it may give them something to look forward to, to feel thought of, seen and heard.

Author: Liz Fry, Life Coach
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