Well, the big day has come and gone. Regardless how it went, the remnants of Christmas will stick around for another little while yet. Whether it’s the endless leftovers causing anxiety or the decorative reminders or even just the fact that work or education hasn't recommenced it can feel like a messy time. Lack of structure and an excess of triggers can leave us feeling a little lost and craving routine and solutions.
Quite often we spend so much time preparing for the challenges of that one difficult day that as soon as it’s over, we can crash. Getting through Christmas Day is certainly an achievement but what about the following days? Are your tools just put back into the toolbox or are you keeping them in hand, ready for more?
In the days after Christmas, it’s good to keep the following in mind:
- Credit. Give yourself credit for getting through a challenging time and acknowledge your strength in doing so. I've definitely found that a deficit in credit will almost certainly pave my way to a bad day. We have no problem in picking up on all of our perceived shortcomings, so why not start to pick up on all our actual successes instead? Which do you think will motivate you more?
- Stay engaged. Recovery or working on yourself or whatever you’re doing doesn't just end with Christmas. It’s a constant process of bettering your reactions to life. So keep working at it, keep doing the actions that need to be done and speaking to the people that are involved in guiding you. It’s important to stay committed and see this through regardless how you think you've handled the festive season. It ain't over til it's over!
- Self care. Christmas can be overwhelming and even if we don’t really realise it at the time, we expend a lot of energy trying to stay on top of it. When you’re sensitive; the lights, the noise and some of the people can be draining, so it’s vital to take time out to recharge. Go for a walk or out for fresh air, listen to music and reconnect with yourself. You have to make time to get your strength back up, no one will do this for you.
- Take everyday as a new opportunity. Christmas is also something to look forward to and when it’s over it can feel a bit like your balloon is popped. All the excitement and preparation is finito and well, now what? Make your days special, choose activities to inject more fun and give yourself more to look forward to. If you have time off, why not make the most of it and collect happy memories and experiences.
- Protect yourself. If you’re sensitive to negative body chatter i.e the barrage of blathering about diets and weight loss coming up to the new year, you need to protect yourself now. A lot of people like to talk about ‘indulging’ at Christmas and then weight loss in the New Year and this kind of talk can be both challenging and unhelpful. It’s imperative at this time to hear your own recovery voice and stand by what you value. Be the change you want to see and aim to be a role model rather than a sheep. You need to support yourself in staying strong and tuning out any messages that contradict your recovery language. Let your voice be louder.
From my own experience Christmas time is just getting better each year. It has been extremely challenging in the past and I can honestly say that many of the previous anxieties around it have melted away this year and last year. In the past I found it impossible to imagine it any improvement, but it does and has and is continuing to do so.
That improvement is there for the taking for anyone and this time next year could be a completely different experience. It's up to us to create that reality.