Putting the joy and sparkle back into Christmas
“I wish it could be Christmas every day…” sang Wizzard, the British glam rock band. Do you wish it could be Christmas every day? For most people, the party season magnifies the joys and struggles of life – in our relationships; how we spend our precious time; our eating, drinking and shopping patterns; and memories of those people and things we have lost along life’s journey. If any of these areas of life bring you difficulty, this article is for you. (Alternatively if you find this time of year exciting and energising, please take a moment to share this with someone who finds Christmas a strain).
If we strip Christmas back to its very early roots, it was a Pagan festival known as Yuletide. Celebrated in December, it was a transition into the new year and was thought of as a time of upheaval, as well as new beginnings. Ring any bells? Candlelight conquered darkness and fir trees were treasured for remaining green in the coldest of frosty, snowy winters. Celebrating together banished isolation and kept communities vibrant. Many of the Yuletide symbols have been carried over into the Christian celebration, which at its heart reminds us of God coming into our world to bring us peace and joy. Just how much peace and joy would you like at any time of the year, nevermind during the festive season?
So how do we begin to reclaim the spirit of Christmas - that sense of celebration, peace and joy?
Let’s fast forward to 2nd January. Just how great a sense of well-being would you experience waking up on this day, having begun to create new ways of managing your time and money and new ways of nourishing and sustaining your mind, body and spirit? I encourage you to start pondering which one of these areas you want to breathe new life into first.
Did you know that one of the first steps to introducing more wonder into your Christmas experience is to be honest with yourself? Allow yourself to recognise the Christmas rituals you are happy with and less than happy with. The next step is to realise just how much of these you can influence. I wonder how many of us recognise that the power to change our experience of Christmas lies in our own hands, not in those of our family, friends, colleagues, retailers, the media or Santa Claus?
Have you thought about the importance of keeping in mind your own needs? Getting a good balance with this will enable you to stay physically and emotionally healthy and ensure you are in the best shape to function, flourish and play your part within your family, workplace and friendship communities.
Reining in your spending
Are you in a cycle of spending that stretches your budget, eats up your time scouring the shops and leaves you feeling stressed and burnt out? In a recent survey conducted by the Money Advice Service, nearly half of those questioned will use credit cards, store cards and overdrafts to cover the cost of Christmas. Apparently the average UK adult spends £530 on Christmas.
On a national scale, last year we spent £2.4bn on food, drink or presents that eventually went to waste – either because they were unused, unneeded or unwanted. The survey showed that a massive 37% of respondents received presents they didn’t use and these came with an average price tag of £54!
Working with a hypnotherapist to get clear about your priorities with finances will enable you to make wise choices around your spending. Here are some practical steps to get you started:
1) Work out approximately how much you spent on Christmas last year
Include gifts, meals and drinks out, food at home, travel costs and so on. If you have no idea, look back at last year’s bank and credit card statements.
2) Ask yourself:
How much did those ways of spending enhance either your life, or the lives of those around you? Did you really need all that food? Did the recipients of your gifts really appreciate them? If you want your money to have a greater impact, why not switch to making a donation to a local good cause?
3) Set a budget
Work out how much you can realistically afford to spend and begin to prioritise where you want to invest your precious gold. Pay in cash to bring you closer to the reality of how much you are spending.
4) Do you know about love languages?
Most of us have a primary way of preferring to receive love from others. Some people feel more loved if they receive a lovely gift, while others just prefer a hug, appreciative words, quality time or someone doing something for them. So if a close relative or friend isn’t fussed about receiving presents, finding a new way to express your love for them will result in them feeling more loved and your bank balance being more healthy.
Mince pies, sherry, brussels sprouts, turkey, beer, Christmas cake, office parties, Gooducken, wine, Christmas pud, whisky, eggnog, mulled wine, stuffing, office drinks, leftovers…
Just this list is enough to trigger you to recall experiences of having feasted or over-dosed! Notice how there’s at least one item here you don’t like – and how there are other people in the world who enjoy those very same things. Have you heard it’s possible to increase or decrease your desire, reliance or addiction to any type of food or drink? Hypnotherapy is a fantastic tool that can help you move from being driven by cravings, to having a healthy, well controlled interest in any type of foodstuff or beverage. On the subject of alcohol, exercising more choice over this will ensure you have less regrets the morning after office parties and other social gatherings!
To give you a taste of how it’s possible to decrease your desire for a food or drink item, take yourself back to that uncomfortable feeling when you’ve eaten or drunk too much. Go ahead, right now feel exactly how that feels. Next time you find yourself about to over-indulge, in that split second before deciding to refrain or gorge yourself, bring that uncomfortable feeling of over-indulgence back and notice what happens.
Remember also that destructive behaviours can be a strong signal that something needs to be addressed and resolved at a deeper level emotionally. If this resonates with you, seek professional help.
Christmas day - who will you spend it with?
On Christmas day do you enjoy the company of people who nurture, cherish, love and inspire you? Or do you rush around making sure you’ve done your annual duty to those people who seem to set your agenda at Christmas? Remember, the 25th December is just another day – just one out of 365 other days!
If you’d like more joy on this day, just for a moment give yourself the space to dream about how you’d like to spend your time - who are you with, what are you doing, what delights do you see, hear and feel? If you notice a little voice saying your dream is not possible, just put that voice to one side while you allow yourself to work out the first small step towards making this happen. Making these changes may be uncomfortable for those you spent Christmas with in the past. Often it will be our close family that we struggle to do this with, as inevitably we have unresolved history with them. If you find it hard to make the reasonable choices you want to with family members, it’s time to seek out a hypnotherapist to help you re-shape the dynamic of these significant relationships.
It must be done by Christmas!
When someone - your manager, a client or colleague, friend or family member insist on this - check in with them and gently ask whether this is really necessary. It’s reasonable that some things need to be done by Christmas, however Christmas and the New Year become loaded with pressures that are completely unnecessary. Do you know the power of the “what if?” phrase? “What if we did this thing by 7 January…?” This little phrase enables people to begin to open their minds to other possibilities. What if you were the role model for clarity and good sense to those around you, who displays a more life enhancing way of being?
Coping with bereavement, relationship breakdown, redundancy or change of circumstances
If loss is a burden you are carrying, you don’t need me to remind you that Christmas and the New Year, along with anniversaries, birthdays and other significant dates can be the toughest of times. The loss of a loved one, a relationship or a job robs us of the future we expected to have. So whatever your loss, you will find the support of a hypnotherapist invaluable in helping you to navigate your way through this most testing of times. If you’ve lost a loved one, I wonder what they would want for you? Would it be peace of mind? Happiness? Getting help if you’re struggling?
We all deal with bereavement and loss in our own particular way, since each person and therefore each relationship or situation is unique. I know people who’ve experienced loss and seem to become stuck in their lives, unable to enjoy the good things they still have, while others have somehow re-captured the joy of living.
If you want to recover and rebuild your life, find an experienced hypnotherapist to guide and support you in starting to make the most of your life again.
Look to the future NOW, it’s only just begun…
I’ll leave the last word to another rock band (this time Slade). There’s a lot of truth in this lyric. The past is the past, but the future presents us with a wealth of opportunities for new beginnings, new ways of doing things. Precisely which new ways of being are you going to unwrap for yourself this year?
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