Thursday, 13 December 2018

Quick ways to keep your family connected over the festive period

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but for many of us, it’s also the time when we do lots of things for other people and can easily lose sight of what is good for us and our closest friends and family. As we are pulled in different directions and have many things to do, what is meant to be valuable family time can get railroaded, leaving us feeling stressed and short tempered.

So what can we do to avoid Christmas burnout and ensure that we spend quality time with our nearest and dearest over the festive period?

Set time aside to share

At no other point in the year is a calendar more important than December. There are places to be, things to do and the demands on our time are all encompassing. Make sure that you schedule in quality time with your family. We don’t mean sat in front of the TV (though you can schedule time in for that too!). We really mean being mindful about how you spend your time together. Even in very close families, Christmas will mean different things for each individual, especially when we often have different interests and priorities. Set time aside to sit down together and share your thoughts and opinions. Opening up to others is the way to create a deeper connection.

Focus on presence – not presents

We all know what it’s like to be somewhere though our mind is actually a million miles away. There are so many things to fit in and only a short window of time. In an ideal world, we’d be focused at every single event, but the reality is that we can't do it all. Give yourself a break and choose one or two events during the season when you will be truly present. Turn off your phone, soak up the atmosphere, and take in the joy on your family’s faces. Laugh. Sing. Breathe. Take the opportunity to step off the treadmill and find the true meaning of Christmas in just a couple of Christmas events. Your family will thank you for it.

Make memories

It won’t take long for your family to forget what you have bought them for Christmas, but they won’t forget how you make them feel. The time you spend with people and the thought that you put into your gifts is not measured in money – or at least it shouldn’t be. Christmas is a time for making memories that will last for years to come. Often our Christmas as adults is shaped by what we ourselves have experienced as a child – and the same will be true of your family. Time and time again, research has shown that experiences bring more happiness to people than things do, so spend time thinking about what you can do for – and with – your family, rather than what you can buy them. Share some of your old family traditions with your own children and don’t be afraid to start some new ones too. Sharing experiences are key to keeping connected.

All families thrive on routine – they’re the patterns we all fall into during our usual day to day life. It doesn’t take much for these patterns to become compromised – especially over the holidays, so it’s important that we focus as much on the things we need to do to make sure our loved ones continue to feel loved and respected as we do on the need for everyone to have a ‘perfect Christmas’.

You can read more about family dynamics and how to create a positive environment in this Psychology Today article.

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