No matter how much you like your family, Christmas, gift buying and giving, eating – Christmas can be a pretty anxiety inducing time of year for even the calmest of people. And I certainly am not the calmest of people.
December is a month of the year where you can be in full swing, doing great at work, at home, balancing your life and then suddenly everything gets picked up, shaken and lobbed out the window, with the upbeat ring of “oh, go on, it’s Christmas”. For people that are control freaks, like me, this can cause some issues.
This year I have worked hard to try and learn and appreciate what works for me and what I want – sure I still do too much and make bad decisions, but I am certainly trying. I have to say I have noticed the difference. I especially noticed that in October and November I was really getting into the swing of saying no to things, taking some time out, and thinking about what I wanted rather than what everyone else wanted me to do. So when December came round for its brutal attack, I was trying my best to be prepared.
Training is my solitude, it’s where I get my time out, to think, to let off steam. So for my main decision for increased calm in December to come from freezing my gym membership, I questioned my own sanity and life choices. But bare with me. When a CrossFit membership in London is your largest outgoing after your rent, it can cause a little bit of anxiety if you don’t get in. Leading in my case to several periods of addiction because I don’t want to be wasting my money – why that outweighs nearly breaking myself, I will never know. For me, in the madness of this month it was the most logical thing I could do to freeze and find other, cheaper alternatives, or just have some down time. I didn’t want to have to pass up nights out to go to the gym, or to feel I had to go when I didn’t feel up to it because I was tired from work events, overtime or socialising. I wanted to live my life without questioning every move and truly allowing myself to go off “gut feel”.
As it happened, I didn’t have many social events, as I managed to plan them in a way that worked for me, and a couple of weekends were largely me doing nothing but watching movies, eating tasty food and running.
By the time it came to going home for Christmas I didn’t feel like I was crawling home and couldn’t possibly stand another dinner, drink, party, or conversation with someone. Sure, after a few days of being in a house with five other adults, I wanted some space, a nap, some peace, but overall it was lovely. We were all on the same page of just wanting to spend time together and not make Christmas an unnecessary struggle.
This was the first year that I have been at home and not had my brother or sister around. The only other time I experienced this was when I stayed in the States for Christmas. It just felt a little weird, like a small part of me was missing. I joked on the run up that I wouldn’t come if they weren’t there, and that I deserved extra presents because I was the only one home, and that it would be a dream come true to get all the undivided attention. But in reality, it wouldn’t be Christmas without going home, presents are nice but the company is what really matters, and the attention is more fun when you’re fighting for it.
There will always be people missing at Christmas, that’s just how it is and as life goes on we will miss more and more of them. I guess that’s why it’s so important to remember it is only one day, it isn’t worth the stress. It can be made into such a huge thing in our head, a milestone in the year (like New Year) of when things are meant to be achieved and when new beginnings arrive. Yet if we don’t put in the work for the rest of the year, we won’t build meaningful friendships, relationships, networks. Then what can we expect to have at Christmas? If you are happy and striving for the rest of the year, there is a greater chance that you will have a good time and enjoy the festive period, taking each change and uncertain celebration in your stride.
This was probably one of the best Christmas’ I have had and I think that is largely down to doing so much this year to acknowledge who I am and what is important to me. I am who I am. I am trying not to bite so quickly to comments, judgements, my own anxiety. I am trying to take time to understand my reactions to things and to appreciate where other people are coming from. I am standing up for myself, what I want and need. I am saying when I’m not happy about something, rather than expecting someone else to understand. I am re-educating my own brain about what I deserve, after years of going along with things that made me unhappy.
There’s nothing like the expectation that surrounds Christmas – that you have to have a good time, that you should be happy, that you will eat, that you will enjoy family company even if they speak out of line every time you see them. Christmas shouldn’t be about testing your boundaries, so why does it so often feel like it is?
This year I felt like I had established my boundaries and I respected them. Have you?
In 2020, I truly hope that I will continue to live by the changes I made this year and continue to welcome the real me. There are a lot of opportunities and scary adventures on the cards and I can’t wait to see them grow!