So what did you get for Christmas this year?
Wouldn't it be lovely to think that all our Christmases were like a supermarket ad? All those happy families, tables groaning with food and brightly wrapped presents piled underneath a splendid festive tree.
Reality tends to be a little different.........arguments, unhappy children, worries over debt, anxiety over the bills to come, more arguments dredged up from previous years, grief over the loss of family members and friends, work pressures, life pressures.
A lot of families find that Christmas is their most fractious time. Our usual stresses and triggers are compounded by the pressure that we put upon ourselves to be the perfect family; to have the perfect day, the perfect dinner, the perfect tree, the perfect presents.
Just because these stresses are self induced doesn't mean that we should take them lightly or that we can shrug them off easily.
And that sense of failure when we judge ourselves to not have been "perfect" can leave us with a sense of guilt that lingers long into the New Year. This guilt can turn to anger - against those that conspired to ruin our festivities, against ourselves that we didn't perform well enough - and this can of course lead to feelings of depression.
So if that New Year slump is actually a post-Christmas depression,
what can we do to 'fix' it?
Here is one practical way to deal with the emotional aftermath of the holiday period, and a way to future proof those to come:
1. Make a list.
Write down what you want. Not a present wish-list but an emotional list - for example; happy, memorable, fun, loving, special. List all those positive emotions that you want yourself and your loved ones to experience during the festive period.
Remember to include only positive emotions on your list.
2. Personalise the emotions.
Once you have the basics of the emotions down, underneath each one write down who you want that emotion for - for example; fun = children, loving = new partner, special = an elderly or ill loved one.
We cannot change how others feel or behave, but we can change how we feel and behave and that in turn can affect those around us in a positive way.
3. Be specific.
For every name on the list, look at what specific activity you can do to create the emotion that you want to generate - for example; special = elderly relative = time spent together looking at old photos and talking about the people in them.
Make every activity relevant to the person and give it time and attention.
Now look at that list and think over the time you have just spent together - you will find that even though globally you may feel that the whole period was a disaster, that nothing went right, nothing was as you wanted it, in reality you are going to find that there were several high points that you are glossing over in concentrating only on the negative.
The turkey may have been a disaster, but those buttered sprouts were divine. The caramelised carrots may have burnt, but the roasted spuds were a culinary delight.
The game of hide and seek you had with the children, the walk in the park with the dog, sitting together for the Queen's speech and listening to granddad reminiscing about the first year they had a TV in the home, or popping that champagne for the morning Buck's Fizz. Somewhere there are bright points and those are the ones that you need to bring forward and highlight in you mind. Concentrate on those. The over-tired screaming children finally sleeping peacefully, sitting on the sofa watching repeats on the TV with the last of the chocolate selection boxes, seeing a neighbour for a chat over the garden fence, admiring the festive lights while taking the dog out last thing.
Finding the bright points can be difficult when our minds just want to concentrate on the negative darkness. Writing things down can help to focus our minds and identify those happier moments.
Overall, however you may feel about the Christmas period just past, there is nothing now that you can change about it. But you can change how you feel about it.
Try to move forward in a positive way, you may find that you need to mend bridges, re-create family ties, forgive and move on, or even step away. Use your emotional wish-list to create the memories that you want in the future and to identify and avoid the issues that may have marred this Christmas.
For further help and advice in dealing with any of the issues mentioned, please do not hesitate to contact me via the website: www.therapie63.fr