Tips For a Loving Christmas

Relationship Advice for the Festive Period

Special occasions and celebrations are sadly quite often associated with stress and conflict. Whilst we fantasise of a peaceful, harmonious and loving celebration, we often succumb to the pressure and disappointment of expectation. All too often we blame our loved ones for how we are feeling and the close proximity gives rise to airing all that we managed to avoid expressing throughout the year.

This usually ends in arguments, slammed doors and tears. Something no one really wants. Especially not at Christmas. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can have a wonderful experience with your loved ones.

Here are a few pointers leading you in that direction:

Make spending quality time together your priority.

What we all thrive on is connection with others. This can be tricky when we are distracted by all the hustle and bustle of presents, meals and tidying. Learn to prioritise. Give yourself and others the time and space to connect and create an unforgettable experience together by paying attention to what really matters: each other.

Don’t take responsibility for other adults.

It is disrespectful and disempowering to take responsibility for others. When we are tempted to protect them from an uncomfortable truth or experience such as an unsuitable gift or a botched meal, we rescue and enable their avoidance. Instead, let’s support each other in learning how to feel all of our feelings and make room for each other’s insecurities and vulnerability by embracing them rather than fearing, avoiding or fixing them. Feelings are not problems so nothing needs fixing.

Respect differences.

Differences in opinion or values for example are not problems or reasons for conflict. Believing that differences are a problem is the problem. Differences exist to provide us with a more comprehensive experience. They are something to notice and learn from, not something to fear, criticise and devalue. Notice your judgements and resistance to any differences and don’t make someone else wrong for being different to how your mind tells you they should be.

Be confident in saying No.

Use the power of No. When we say no when we mean no instead of being agreeable at the expense of our integrity, we show respect and live based on the value of honesty. We also communicate that we trust and respect others to deal with their own feelings in response to our no. Don’t fear your No – it is a valuable tool for authentically connecting with others.

Give yourself breaks.

It can feel exhausting to be with so many people for long periods of time. We may try to anticipate everyone’s wishes and put ourselves under a lot of unnecessary pressure. It is perfectly healthy to give yourself short and frequent breaks just to have time by yourself. The peace and quiet of spending a few minutes alone can help us refocus on what matters, help us relax and be in a better frame of mind for our benefit and that of others.

Be mindful.

When we focus on what is actually going on, we’re not caught up in our head. This alone means that we won’t experience any distress. When we are mindful and fully engaged in the moment, we stay out of your head and are present for ourselves and others. Instead we get to focus on the music, the taste of the food or the sensation of hugging others.

Stay present.

To fully enjoy something we have to be there. We have to be present enough to experience it. And we are only ever present in the present – not the past and not the future, but right now. This means not wallowing in stories and memories about the past and not engaging with anxious thinking about the future. The present is the gift.

It is easy for us to get caught up in anxious thinking during times when we feel the weight of pressure and expectation. However, it is possible to catch ourselves and to bring us back into the safety and peace of the present moment.

We don’t have any problems connecting with loved ones whenever our minds are clear and loving. So instead of focusing on how others express themselves and behave, let’s focus on taking care of our state of mind so we get to enjoy the holiday season by being our most loving self.

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas,

Marlena x

Marlena Tillhon MSc

"I love helping people and I live for deep and meaningful conversations. Being a psychotherapist is my dream job and my greatest passion in life."

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