It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Alex Hurt, wellness blogger and fellow spa professional, writes again for our blog series ‘Go Mental’. Alex’s journey has given her first-hand experience in mental health awareness from an early age and working in wellness has allowed her to acknowledge and provide a voice of reason when people need it most.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

We lived through the mini lockdown#2 and now, no matter what tier you’re in, we are looking towards Christmas.

The festive season promises hope, peace and joy; sadly the picture on the Christmas card, for some, is anything but. Let’s face it, Christmas is a ‘time of year’, it’s not just a few days wrapped nicely with a bow. It’s about the festivities, the togetherness, the ‘feeling’ conjured up by advertisements and events aimed at getting us in the festive mindset.

Do you buy into that ‘festive feeling’? Does it just arrive naturally as the year begins to get colder and the nights lengthen? Or is it the markets, the music and the
merrymaking that conjure it up for you?

Personally, I find the festive spirit either exists in people or it doesn’t. Those who perhaps don’t have a happy schedule of festivities planned, perhaps because they are working, they’re not able to be with loved ones, or they’re simply not signed up to the whole retail fuelled hallmark occasion are deemed negative. Really? Who decided that then?

The standard Christmas traditions seem to be wearing a little thin. The true meaning of Christmas seems almost forgotten and has been replaced by a ridiculous number of gifts, calendars filled with chocolate and a ‘to do list’ as long as the line at the supermarket in lockdown #1!

2020 has given us a new vision, (pardon the pun)! An opportunity to view the world differently, to work differently and to live within your means in a simplified life. We now have virtual marketplaces, local festive markets that you can order from online, supporting local businesses, seeing the face behind the brand and investing in people’s story. It’s all become rather personal again and isn’t that a gift of hope in itself?

Family, friends, money, gifts, decorations, time, and then there are the loved ones that are no longer with us. There’s a lot of pressure at this time of year and for many this year hasn’t been kind. We may have lost people we love; we may have lost our income, lost hope, or our health. Lockdown opened up a myriad of emotions for us, some thrived and others were left lonely and lost.

This morning I lay in bed looking at the twinkly fairly lights wound around my ceiling beams, I listened to the purr of my cat, and the clipperty-clop of the horses going past my house, all cosy and comfortable in my bed, and I thought wow… money just can’t buy this feeling. Yesterday I put on the Christmas music and whipped out my decorations. I put my tree in the window, left the tree lights on and went out. When I returned, it looked like Christmas. Why? Because I made it that way.

I had to feel that urge, and to be frank I wasn’t even sure that the Christmas feeling would arrive this year. However, it arrived earlier this week when my neighbour sent me a rather beautiful card. Having had an early Christmas family get together last month and some pretty amazing homemade sausage rolls, I decided in the spirit of giving I’d bake my own sausage rolls, get some festive food boxes and gift them to my wonderful neighbours. My festive feeling began with giving.

With the additional time I had this year, I have found the inspiration to invest in the things that make me happy. I’d always wanted to be a person that bakes, and then gifts their creations, but I’d never before found the time. This year I found that time and learnt that this truly fills my cup.

Looking towards Christmas doesn’t mean ‘looking forward to It’. If you’ve experienced loss, sadness or pain this year the festivities may be a reminder of what you don’t have rather than what you do. If you’re experiencing depression or anxiety, the rush of this time of year may be just too much for you. That’s ok, you shouldn’t feel pressured to put on a show, and there is no shame in not celebrating.

When things get too much, there are steps you can take to help ease your racing mind or slide you back into life’s rhythms. It begins with acknowledging how you’re feeling, recognising the pattern and talking to others who experience the same feelings. Discovering that someone feels the same way as you do can be therapeutic in itself, but remember that it can be destructive if it’s a one way conversation, so be wary of always being the ‘listener’ in that conversation and never the sharer.

You can find the magic of the season in helping others, whether that be helping the less fortunate, or inviting someone for a walk and a hot chocolate who hasn’t been out for some time, it could be a regular phone call to check in, a video message, a homemade card or gift. When you’re feeling like a hamster in a wheel, it’s important to somehow take yourself off that wheel. Although we may not naturally be selfish, anxiety and depression makes us focus inwards. Focusing outwards, getting up, showing up and getting out of our own heads for a while can give us the space and perspective, we need so that we can feel better.

So find your own festive feeling, whatever that looks like. It’s so important to remember that we are still here, and to recognise the significance of that. We made it. Many didn’t this year and for that we surely have to be thankful. Make your own world sparkle, and that just takes a little time to stand still and watch, listen……..then feel.

Alex Hurt, Mindfulness, Well-being, Blogs