Christmas can be a wonderful and happy time for many people. A time when families and loved ones take a break from their busy schedules and come together to stuff a few mince pies down their throats and overdose on board games and Christmas films.

But that’s not what everyone’s Christmas is like though is it. It can be very different indeed for many other people.

In fact some people actually dread Christmas. It can be a very difficult time for a number of reasons.  I am not trying to rain on your Christmas spirit here. Instead I want to identify some of these challenges and ways that you might overcome them to make this period easier for you.

1 Loneliness

We are bombarded with images and messages from all directions that Christmas is all about spending time with our loved ones.

But not everybody has family or partners around to share their Christmas with. This can be for a variety of different reasons to do with each and every person’s personal circumstances. Consequently deep feelings of loneliness and isolation can be stirred up.  

It is very easy to underestimate the impact of loneliness. It is important to remember that it is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety. There is no worse feeling in the world than feeling completely alone particularly at a time when everybody else appears to be surrounded by people who love and care for them. 

If this resonates with you there are steps that you can take to reduce these feelings. This may not be easy for you. The strange thing about loneliness is that even in the depths of isolation you still may not feel ready or strong enough to go and seek the company of others. This may be because you feel like you’ll be a burden to them or perhaps that you feel that you will have to put on a front of being okay. These thoughts are not balanced and more importantly they are not true.

You will find that most people, particularly if they are friends will want to be there for you if they knew how you were truly feeling. Even if they are not good friends there are kind, compassionate people out there that will be only too happy to spend time with you if they thought that by doing so they could help alleviate your pain a little.

I will never forget one December about 12 years ago after separating from my wife when I was feeling a bit low. I was seeing a fitness coaching client who asked me what my wife and I were doing for Christmas. I told him that we were recently separated and without hesitation he insisted that I spend Christmas with him and his family. This was a man I see once a week and only on a professional basis.

The moral of the story is that if you are lonely at Christmas don’t suffer in silence. People will want to be there for you but only if you are brave and proactive enough to reach out.

 2 Bad memories of Christmas past

Perhaps there was a time when Christmas used to be enjoyable until that one time when it changed. Situations when families are often forced together sometimes create tension and stress that may culminate into arguments or squabbles. If this happened to you it’s important to remember that the past does not determine the future. One bad Christmas experience does not mean that every single one going forwards will also be a disaster. If there are things you can do that are within your control that could reduce the chances of future undesired episodes go ahead and do them. If not then all you can do accept that you can’t control the will or minds of others and as the saying goes, keep calm and carry on.

3 It drags on and on and on

Ok so it’s not just Christmas day and Boxing Day is it. There is often that whole week between Christmas and the New Year where your normal routine may still be out the window. For some people that’s fantastic. Another whole week of slobbing on the sofa munching into a trough of Quality Street sounds like heaven. Whereas for others like me we get a bit twitchy. We get bored and restless. For me the purpose that I get from my work is on an enforced hold. The key is to remember that it’s ok to take a break. Enjoy doing less. Life does not always have to be about being productive and achieving goals. Use this time to recharge your batteries and maybe do a bit of light planning or goal setting for the New Year. But as much as you can be in the moment and spend quality time with your friends or family undistracted by your static things to do list.

4 I’m going to put weight on

I’ve spoken about this a lot in other places so I won’t go overboard here. You have two choices. You need to pick one and accept it. The first is recognising that you do have a choice. It’s you that decides what you do or don’t put in your mouth at Christmas. It’s not like you hand your brain over to someone else and say you are in charge of my eating decisions for the next week, just give it back to me in January! You can decide to be more controlled this year. You can plan to make sure that you are not surrounded by high calorie foods if you really want to. Self-control is like a muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it gets.

The second choice is the one that most people go for. This doesn’t mean it’s the best decision incidentally. Only you can decide which is the best one for you. This choice is the acceptance that it will be very challenging at Christmas to make healthy choices so you don’t. You decide instead to deal with it in January. If you choose this option that’s fine. However the rule needs to be in place that you don’t beat yourself up about it. If that is your decision then don’t torture yourself for making it. Accept this is the choice you have gone for and resolve to be committed to starting your healthy eating plan in January.  



khody damestani