It's Christmas, but do you feel as festive as you have previous years? If you're not feeling quite so Christmassy, Emily Caulton offers some advice about how to rekindle some of that lost festive cheer, and find some value in Christmas time even when you don't feel so merry and bright.
It’s Christmas Eve, and I have to admit, I’m not feeling very Christmas-Eve-like. In fact, I’m not feeling very festive at all, and the worst thing about feeling decidedly un-festive at Christmas time is that it always feels like you’re the only person in the whole world who isn’t full of Christmas cheer. Of course, social media doesn’t exactly help with this issue, because at the moment, it’s a glittering haze of festivities, from ice skating to Christmas lights to silly jumpers.
It’s wonderful to see your friends having a great time, but it can make you feel thoroughly left out if you’re not feeling so up-beat yourself. Sometimes, there isn’t a very good reason for feeling a bit down. You just do, and guess what, it can even happen at Christmas time!
So, I’ve been thinking of ways to try and embrace the joy and excitement that I remember Christmas embodying in the past, and while I definitely haven’t come up with any quick-fix ways to feel like a child on Christmas Eve again, I’ve managed to find a few different ways to at least appreciate Christmas for what it is, rather than what you might expect it to be.
1. Stop putting pressure on yourself to feel excited or happy, and embrace the way you feel as it is.
I’m somebody who usually gets hugely excited about Christmas, so much so that I think about it quite a lot throughout the whole year, and when I do, I often feel a little thrill. The feeling, as I remember it, is so wonderful that it adds extra pressure to feel it as soon as Christmas comes round the corner. And, ironically, that usually kills the mood completely. If you’re constantly asking yourself, “Why don’t I feel festive?” or “Why don’t I feel happy?”, any chance of you feeling that way is usually quashed. It’s one thing to be in tune with your emotions and check in on them occasionally, but its quite another to over-analyse them and reject any negative feelings you have. As difficult as it may be, accepting your negative thoughts and emotions for what they are is the first step to feeling a bit more merry at Christmas time, even if it doesn’t resolve the problems you might have.
2. Value what you have at Christmas, as opposed to what you don’t have.
As impossible as it may seem, Christmas can be treated as a good opportunity to remember what you have. It can definitely feel like a huge effort to think of what you’re grateful for, but a way to start is remembering what you have right from the very basics: food to eat, a warm bed, or even a family member or friend to rely on. There are lots of opportunities for little, relatively unimportant things to go a bit wrong at Christmas: the turkey gets burnt, you receive a present that you’re not thrilled about, Grandma won’t stop talking about when you’re going to get married… losing perspective is very easy, and a way to gain it back is to remember what you have, even if these things seem very basic indeed.
3. Take a small amount of time to do something that reminds you of feeling festive.
This isn’t a hack to make you feel festive all of a sudden, but taking even an hour out of your busy schedule to do something a bit frivolous and Christmassy may help you feel more involved with the season. Christmas films, baking, a festive craft you used to do as a child (remember salt dough ornaments?) or even just reminiscing about past Christmases can all rekindle a bit of that Christmas spirit you used to feel as a child. Remember to try and focus solely on the activity itself, rather than putting pressure on yourself to be care-free and festive, and you’ll find that even if your Christmas spirit isn’t fully restored, you’ll feel a little more involved with the season, and less left-out.
4. Remember that the meaning of feeling festive changes as you do.
As a child, most people remember Christmas as a thrilling, magical time, but as we all get older and our minds become a little bit more mature, so does the meaning and feeling of Christmas. It’s important to realise this so that when you don’t feel immediately Christmassy, it doesn’t feel like a depressing decline in your ability to be lighthearted and feel the “Christmas magic”, but instead just a matured, more adult view of what this “Christmas magic” is. The magic is in having somebody - a family member, friend, or partner - who cares for you, or about helping others through charity work or a small donation, or, if you are religious, the magic is in the birth of Christ - whatever you value as an individual. Or, it could even be simply the idea that human beings all over the world are using it as an excuse to show each other love and peace, and to get together.
In this day and age, there are lots of different factors that can make you feel like you ought to be overtly happy over the holidays. While I hope that you do feel happy and care-free most of the time during this season, I also hope that you don’t feel pressured to feel permanently wonderful just because it’s Christmas. For you, maybe Christmas is more of a relaxing time than an exciting one, or more of a thoughtful time than an overtly happy one. Whatever it may be, I hope you can get something out of this time of year – whatever it means for you.