holiday season with christmas gift

Are you feeling under pressure this Christmas?

Christmas 2021 is being billed as the Christmas that will outshine every other year. It’s barely December and we’ve already experienced shops full of Christmas stock, Christmas ads on TV and the news is bombarding us with media reports about possible stock shortages for Christmas. 

If you’re already feeling the pressure to make Christmas 2021 one to remember and you’re starting to wonder how you’ll make it through the festive season, let me assure you, you’re not the only one. It seems that many of us are feeling a weight on our shoulders right now. It’s nearly the end of the year, the darker evenings have set in and it’s natural to feel as though you’re done with 2021 already.

Let's remember we are still living through a pandemic

Let’s not forget that the last two years have taken their toll on us. Yes, life may seem a lot more ‘normal’ that it was this time last year (we’d just come out of a November lockdown and were all moving into the tier system) but the implications of the pandemic definitely haven’t gone away. 

We’ve just had the news about the Omicron variant of the virus, which adds even more uncertainty to our lives, and restrictions are increasing in England as a result. Who would ever have thought that ‘normal life’ would consist of regular lateral flow tests, booking our booster jabs and constantly hoping that we don’t test positive? We’re seeing media reports of a surge of cases in Europe and lockdowns popping up across the world. There’s constant speculation in the media about the effectiveness of the vaccine and further UK lockdowns, which adds to the feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that we’re experiencing. 

Throw in the fact that the recent clock change has plunged us all into darkness by late afternoon and it’s not difficult to see why many of us are feeling low. Life is far from easy right now and we can’t ignore the impact that the pandemic has had on us emotionally and physically.

Stop trying to make up for lost time

Christmas 2020 is likely to go down in history as being one of the worst we’ll ever experience in our lifetimes. Some of us had a reprieve on Christmas Day which enabled us to see some family members but, if you were in tier 4, you were literally home alone and unable to mix with anyone from outside your own household. It was tough. It was something that we couldn’t ever have imagined experiencing. 

The majority of my family and friends found themselves in tier 4 and I know it hit everyone hard. There were tears, anger and a sense of frustration: ‘Why had this announcement come so late?’ Friends with fridges full of food as they were hosting and others with nothing in for Christmas as they were planning to visit family. It was all a big and very stressful mess.

Given what happened last year it’s not surprising that we feel an unspoken pressure to make up for it by going all out to make Christmas 2021 even more special. There’s a sense that we need to compensate somehow for what happened to us in 2020. We need a bigger spread, more guests, extra presents and things have to be ‘perfect’.
If you’re feeling that sense of pressure creeping into your Christmas preparations, I urge you to let it go.
What happened last year happened. We can’t go back in time and change it or make up for it, so don’t try to. Don’t let your mindset get caught up in the past or the future. Think about what’s happening right now in the present.

Don't believe the hype

Don’t buy into the media hype that Christmas has to be perfect this year (or any year for that matter). We’re bombarded with advertising images of families having the perfect Christmas together and that can often make us feel that if we don’t live up to that we’ve somehow failed. No one has the perfect Christmas. Fact. 

For all those images you’ll see on social media of people sharing what a wonderful time they’re having, you’re not seeing the behind-the-scenes images of the toddler having a tantrum five minutes earlier, or the fact that the roast potatoes are burnt and Auntie Carol has offended everyone and it’s not even midday yet.

This year there’s the added pressure of the constant media reports around possible stock shortages. There’s been reports about a potential lack of turkeys and seasonal foods, a shortage of children’s toys and then yesterday I even spotted a story about a wine and spirit shortage (now that really would make Christmas more stressful!). 

The message this year seems to be: ‘You need to buy everything now before we run out of supplies.’ There are lots of factors which are reportedly contributing to supply issues this year, including Covid, Brexit and a shortage of HGV drivers, but the constant drip feeding of these stories on our news feeds really doesn’t help our anxiety levels.

Remember what Christmas is really about

family in Christmas socks and gifts

Don’t forget that this time last year all we wanted was to see each other, presents were the last thing on our
minds. If your turkey hadn’t turned up or one of your presents was stuck in a delivery depot, would you have cared?
At the risk of sounding cheesy, try and remember what the true meaning of Christmas really is.
It’s all about spending time with our loved ones, being together and spreading some joy and kindness around. And you don’t need turkey and all the trimmings to do that! 

Remember what we said we learned from Christmas last year, what we wouldn’t take for granted this year?
Spending time with each other.
Don’t get so caught up aiming for perfection that you end up losing this Christmas too. Get some perspective and focus on what’s really important this festive season.

It’s been a heck of a year for all of us, so let’s not forget you in all this too. Make sure you schedule some time  for you this Christmas. Take a moment to reflect on everything you’ve achieved in what has been an incredibly challenging year and be proud of how far you’ve come.

Pass it on

If reading this has helped you see things a
bit more clearly and made you realise that you’re not the only one feeling this way, share this blog post with others.
If you can think of someone that might benefit from reading this right now, share it with them. It is the season of
goodwill after all. However you are planning on spending Christmas this year, I hope you have a wonderful festive season spent with family and friends. 

Merry Christmas! 

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