It’s the season of goodwill, generosity, peace on Earth, all that lovely stuff: so why is it harder to love people at Christmas than at any other time of the year?
When we get stressed, our mind fills up with mental noise and it’s hard to find space for other people in it. And Christmas can be stressful, what with all the expectations.
So, we need a strategy for not biting anyone’s head off this year. First, try to identify what is causing you stress. No, I don’t mean the gift shopping or the cooking or the in-laws – they are not the cause of your stress! Stress is a part of the mind, and comes from our unhelpful ways of thinking: so identify the thoughts that are sending you into a tail-spin. Is it the expectation of a perfect dinner, or expecting there to be a big family row?
Then we can try to adjust our expectations. Instead of expecting the worst, we can try and reduce the likelihood of an argument by being peaceful ourselves, so we can act as a calming influence on those around us. And instead of expecting perfection, we can be realistic. What is a ‘perfect’ Christmas dinner anyway? Surely, it is one where people are relaxed, not stressed – and that doesn’t depend on the spuds being roasted exactly right, it depends on you being relaxed!
So, let’s focus on changing our minds to prepare for Christmas: being happy is the best present you can give your family.