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Christmas on my terms

Ted Ralph works for the local NHS.

Ted RalphMost people feel pressure coming up to Christmas. It’s a fun time but for many of us it means lots of preparation and work.

It seems like we’re conditioned into wanting that perfect Christmas with copious amounts of food and drink, good company and gift’s a plenty. Nigella Lawson’s glittery vision of Christmas is just one example that’s almost impossible to recreate without a crew of 5 helpers including a hair stylist and interior designer.  

…and when all that work is done and dusted, what if your Christmas didn’t live up to your expectations? Did you set the bar too high? Was it worth all the stress? Possibly not… Maybe it’s time to break the chain of Christmas stress?

I’ve just come out of a 13-year relationship and whilst processing this significant news, I began to assess what’s important in my life. Frankly, Christmas is just another day. (Yes, I appreciate that everyone doesn’t feel the same way - don’t judge me).  Of course, I don’t mean that in a negative way. I like the festive period very much.  However, it’s a fact that we build the day up to be something so utterly amazing, but the reality can be sometimes different.  

I’ve come to the almost startling realisation to not focus on what other people are doing, which removes the temptation to try to compete. I’m doing things my way without the influence of others.

“Well, Sandra. I have just bought 3 boxes of Ferrero Rocher and all my nibbles are from Waitrose” #Groan *rolls eyes*

I know that I’m not the only single person at this time of the year that doesn’t have a close bond with family. So, I’ve reached out to old friends and made plans to see them.   I arranged to attend an art class, which is something I’d put off doing for years and years.  It is fantastic to reconnect with something that I used to enjoy doing so much.

I also joined a few social groups as you can never have too many friends that you can bore with stories about the latest Bananarama tour (no joke, this has happened).  

New people in this new chapter of my life? Tick. 

I wrongly assumed that my confidence would be significantly affected by recent events but it hasn’t been the case – if anything, it has given me an unexpected boost!  Of course, I still have moments where my mood is a bit low but those are fleeting, thankfully. 

Christmas is almost certainly a time when we need to be kinder to ourselves, no matter what your circumstances are.   Instead, we can often find that we’re way too busy running around, shopping, preparing the ultimate dinner and wrapping gifts until 2am in the morning.

People can run themselves ragged at this time of the year.  You can choose to have a Christmas that meets your needs and enables you to enjoy it more.

Don’t feel guilty. Be practical. Be realistic. Be optimistic and set a plan to have more fun. 

Ted’s Top Tips:  Buy prepped veg.  Why spend hours wrapping when you can buy gift bags?  Order as many things as you can online and have them delivered.  I’ve now saved you hours of work. I’ll send you my bill.  

My festive message to you this Christmas (and for the future years too) is simply to not put pressure on yourself. Tell your loved ones that this year, you’re not going to make 4 different kinds of stuffing from scratch.

Enjoy the break from work.   

Laugh (lots).

Watch silly films. 

Be good to yourself. 

Eat mince pies  (a whole box if that’s your thing) and try to relax because you deserve it.    

A bit of mindfulness helps mental wellbeing.  You can learn more about mindfulness here. There’s also some free mindfulness downloads here.

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