Tracy Smithers

Step By Step Counselling & Therapies

Carlisle, Penrith and the Eden Valley, North Cumbria


Christmas can be a time of joy, excitement, and fun. It can also bring up some difficult feelings. Maybe you will be spending it with relatives you would choose not to be with, perhaps you are spending it alone, or perhaps unhappy memories of Christmases past bring up some difficult emotions for you.

This post will look at some useful coping strategies to help you navigate the festive season more easily, enabling you to manage any difficult feelings that might arise. It will also offer some techniques to manage difficult circumstances that might arise.
I often think knowledge is power, when we have the tools or knowledge to manage a situation this can enable us to handle a situation with more ease and to move forward.
As a counsellor, I often like to explore trigger points. Triggers are situations, experiences, or words that can cause us to feel or act in a certain way. They can evolve from past experiences or relationships, and we might react to them differently if we hadn’t previously been in this situation.
At Christmas or similar familiar events when we spend time with people, or in places we don’t usually this is when triggers can often more usually occur.
Finding some useful coping strategies for managing any difficult emotions that arise can be beneficial, and help us with feelings that might arise, helping us to navigate the Christmas season more easily, reduce any unwanted situations, and reduce potential triggers.
Whilst we might not be able to change others or the circumstances we are in, we can look at ways we respond to these situations and other people. In our reactions, we can have the ability to take control of a situation and defuse it.
Some situations in particular can bring up a range of emotions over the Christmas period. These might include; relationships, money worries, loneliness, health issues, being apart from loved ones, and practical arrangements.

The following coping strategies can help in reducing any stress, anxiety, or worry you might be feeling with regard to the Christmas. Whilst we can’t change others, and perhaps we aren’t always to change who we spend time with, we are able to manage our emotions and how we react to situations.

COMMUNICATION. Talking with others and gaining clarity about expectations can make a difference. We can all have a different understanding or perception of a situation, sometimes when expectations vary this can lead to communication becoming confused. Being honest with people about how you feel can help diffuse any potentially stressful situations.

SETTING CLEAR BOUNDARIES AND HAVING REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. Sometimes Christmas can be an overwhelming time. Saying no, and being realistic about what you can commit to can help reduce any stress and pressure. This might also include setting time limits on how long you spend in certain situations. Or perhaps a financial limit.

BREATHING. If you start to feel stressed or anxious focus on your breathing. A few deep breaths in and out can help you to feel calmer.

WRITING THINGS DOWN. Sometimes when we let thoughts build up without offloading them, this can bring up different feelings which in turn can impact how we react to different situations. By writing down how we feel, can allow us to let go of any negative feelings we might be holding on to, and reduce potential triggers we might experience.

MINDFULNESS. Taking some time to be in the moment can help reduce overthinking, stress, or anxiety. Mindfulness involves focussing on being in the moment. You can do this by focussing on what sights, sounds, and smells you are experiencing at that time. Some mindful activities that can be helpful might be going for a walk, or even washing up!

However, you experience this festive season, I hope that you are able to take care of yourself, and above all BE KIND TO YOURSELF.

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