(1) It can be especially hard to feel lonely during Christmas
For those of us who struggle with shyness, Christmas can be a difficult time of year. With family get-togethers, Christmas parties and constant celebrations, it doesn’t take much to feel lonely – especially when watching so many others come together. If you also struggle from social anxiety, it may also seem impossible to feel comfortable at a Christmas party surrounded by eager social minglers.
We don’t have any magic cures, but we do want to share a method you can use to practice challenging your shyness:
We call the exercise the wishing stairs, where you first need to ask yourself: what do you wish you could do, if your shyness didn’t hold you back? This is your goal that you need to envision at the top of a staircase. Then, the exercise is to write down all the small steps you need to take to reach your goal.
Each step has one thing you need to accomplish, and you need to practice each step until it becomes comfortable, before moving to the next step – which will bring you closer and closer to your goal. So if enjoying a Christmas party is at the top of the staircase, what are small challenges you could set for yourself to bring you to the top of the staircase? The important thing to remember is to start small and slowly work your way up in your own pace. If you can have patience with yourself, your hard work might just pay off!
(2) Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect!
Are you feeling pressured to find the perfect gift gifts for your loved ones? Are you worried about overcooking the duck on Christmas Eve? Or maybe you’ve set such high expectations for your Christmas preparations this year, that you already feel stressed?
We’re here to share some insight on what you can do to tackle perfectionistic thoughts like these. The first step is identifying the thought traps you might fall into. These might be:
- Black and white thoughts: “If I make one mistake in a recipe, then my whole Christmas dinner will be ruined”
- ‘Must’ & ‘Have to’ thoughts: “I must not eat a single Christmas cookie if I want to stay in shape” or “I have to find the perfect gifts, or my family won’t be happy with receiving them”
- Mocking thoughts: “I am not good enough to be in charge of decorating the Christmas tree”
The second step is to stop the automatic cycle of these negative thought traps. You can practice setting boundaries for your own thoughts by:
- Challenging the negative thoughts: “What actual proof do I have that I am doomed to fail?”
- Changing to a more positive thought channel: “I might have overcooked the Christmas duck, but my gravy turned out delicious, and that’s what really counts!”
- Making hero-stories about yourself: “I am trying to let things be as they are even though the feeling of not being in control really scares me. I’m doing my best, and that’s really brave.”
We hope that these tips can help you focus on enjoying the small moments of Christmas joy, also when things don’t go as planned.
Remember, it’s okay not to have everything under control.
Remember, it’s okay to be human.
(3) Remember to take a moment to check in with yourself
Are you excited for Christmas Eve? Are you nervous for the next family get-together? Are you bored of the constant Christmas carols? Do you feel swept away in a tornado of wishlists, decorations, baking and holiday celebrations? Are you happy about the snowy weather? Or are you feeling something else entirely?
Christmas comes with so many activities and events that we sometimes forget to check in with ourselves. So set aside 5 minutes today to connect with yourself. Try to find somewhere quiet where you can take some deep breaths and ask yourself:
How am I really doing today?
(4) It’s okay to miss and grieve your lost ones – also during Christmas
Christmas is first and foremost about being around your family and loved ones. In this sense, it’s entirely natural to come to think about the people we’ve lost and who we miss this Christmas. There’s a saying about grief being the price of love, and sometimes the price can feel extra heavy during this time of year.
We believe that there should always be room to grieve or miss a lost one, so we’d like to give you and your family guidance on some methods you can use to commemorate the person you’ve lost:
- Write a letter to your lost one. Write about how you’re feeling right now or how you felt when they passed. Write about the things you wish they knew or the things you wished they could experience with you. Write about why you miss them and what reminds you of them. Write about what you would have asked or liked to know, if they were here right now.
- Light a candle in your windowsill for the one you’ve lost. It can be a remembrance ritual, where the little flame can be spotted all the way from heaven.
- Make a memory flower where you draw a flower on a piece of paper. On every petal you write down what you remember your loved one for. It can be all their good qualities or fun memories you have together. This exercise is especially good to do with your child, if they also miss that person right now.