Christmas Down Under squashes together a huge number of unrealistic expectations – wonderful Christmas Day, perfect extended family relationships, family who scooped the pool at various prize givings, superb summer holiday and so on.
We are desperately rushing around trying to meet those expectations, yet the probably the best thing we can do is to just be grateful.
The connection between gratitude and all manner of health benefits is quite marked. Gratitude causes sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, better recovery from major surgery and so on. This New York Times article is about Thanksgiving, but it quotes some of the research. So to manage Christmas, get on with being grateful.
Many of us like to use the Christmas break to look back over the past year. Without getting madly introspective, figuring out what you are grateful for can be very positive. Many people find writing a daily gratitude journal is a very quick and constructive exercise. For more ideas, the Changeblog has some useful exercises on gratitude
If you have had a rough year, remember that our biggest gratitudes often arise from difficult experiences. At our local brain injury Christmas party on the weekend, one of the clients said he was grateful for his brain injury. The consequent fatigue had forced him to slow down and just live more in the moment.
To put a Christmas context on gratitude: I’ve often thought that the elderly relative who irritated me the most on Christmas Day is the member of the older generation that I now remember the most! It’s not fair, but I promise you it is so. Be grateful even for them!