Christmas, Xmas, The Feast of Lights, Festive Season, Silly Season, Holidays, Just another day of the year ?
whatever it means or doesn’t mean to you……
While Christmas in Australia can be a time synonymous with Christianity, celebratory times, family, friends and holidays, we are aware that not everyone feels like decking the halls with boughs of holly, or snogging under the mistletoe. In fact, for many in our communities, Christmas can be a time of sadness and grief for those who are deeply feeling the absence of loved ones. It is a crucial time to be gentle with ourselves, practice self-compassion, and to seek support from caring friends or a Counsellor.
You don’t have to venture far amongst friends and work colleagues to hear of disastrous stories of previous Christmas family celebrations that have turned into nightmares due to complex family dynamics. Families are not always safe havens, and this can be more so in the case at Christmas, when interpersonal conflicts and stubbornly held grudges are mixed with too much Christmas ‘cheer’ alcohol. This year, find some ways to bring some more ease and comfort to your Christmas experience, by spending time with individuals with whom you feel more comfortable, maybe limit your time at gatherings, and definitely try to avoid discussing sensitive family issues whilst under the influence of alcohol. Remember to take ‘time out’ in between all of the events you are attending, to check in with yourself about how you are managing your own well-being.
Financial stress is a huge issue at Christmas, and potentially even more so after the event is all done and dusted. Sometimes people have the skills at planning ahead and managing their finances around Christmas. For many though, Christmas comes along quickly and their credit card receives a major hit, that can then cause great angst into the New Year. Try to avoid the sense of having to spend huge amounts of money to be a part of celebrations. There are always low cost options and suggestions for family, such as ‘secret santa’, to help keep down the overall costs for everyone. You may also want to consider what ‘giving’ means and how you can broaden the interpretation. Ask the question, ‘how can I give’? Thinking of others can be a way of taking the focus off ourselves and giving a sense of purpose and meaning. Giving doesn’t have to be financial, it could mean volunteering at a local charity Christmas event, donating some goods to a charity, or getting involved with visiting our elderly at an aged care residence.
Remember - take time out to check in with how you are feeling. Make sure you do something you enjoy over Christmas. And if you are feeling sad or alone, reach out to friends and those who will support you.
The WA AIDS Council provides Counselling services, conducted in a supportive and confidential environment. The Counsellors are experienced in assisting clients to address a range of issues including sexuality, gender issues, relationships, behaviour change, sexual health and living with HIV. If you need to speak to one of our counsellors over the Christmas season, click here.