Seeking comfort and joy this festive season

In her regular column, Lucy Parker of Flow Tunbridge Wells has some advice for those struggling with the stress of Christmas…

Let’s face it, life can feel challenging, and no one can deny we are currently in the thick of some extremely dark times globally. War, economic and environmental crises are all on our doorstep and knocking on our doors through the media and our phones. From this perspective, it feels ironic at best and distasteful at worst to even be discussing our Christmas presents and festive feasts. That may be so, and yet here we are, all rushing about panic buying and stocking up on sprouts, wrapping paper and emergency sellotape. 

Last week we looked at the relative fluidity of time and how it can speed up or slow down depending on our perspective. This week I want to suggest that our varied attitudes towards our ‘needs’ are also very changeable and even more so at Christmas time. 

Christmas of course is primarily a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ and a time dedicated to compassion, gratitude, and hope. We would be wise to remember this over the next few days before we allow ourselves to be swept up in the consumer tide and desperately try to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. 

I spent a few hours in London this weekend attempting a little Christmas shopping. I was struck by how fast the consumerist urge began to creep up within me as I strode around Carnaby Street, marvelling at the sights and starting to convince myself I needed to buy the latest this, that, or whatever. Shopping is a contagious sport and retailers are masters at reeling us into the game. There I was, happily strolling around when a hook of a fairy light or good tune pulled me into a shop and almost filled my basket for me. Fortunately for me – and my bank account – I was able to keep this in check and stay mindful of the fact that I don’t need any of these things, not one. My life, nor the lives of my loved ones, will not be improved by a light-up Christmas turkey decoration or novelty slipper. 

As an aside, did you know that the Christmas jumper is one of the least environmentally friendly items of clothing we can purchase and the worst examples of fast fashion? So much so that Lidl have launched a Christmas jumper rental service this year. 

My invitation to you is to stop right now and take a good hard look at everything you already have. Firstly, do you have a roof over your head and feel warm and safe in the comfort of your home? Are you fit and healthy and able to take care of your basic needs? Do you have food on your table and a bed for the night? Are you blessed with friends and family that love you? These things are so easy to take for granted and equally the most fundamental for our physical and mental health and happiness. What we, as well as our children, need first and foremost is safety, love, and to be both seen and heard. My invitation to you is to do just that this Christmas, to snuggle down together and bask in your blessings before you fall into the consumer trap and get stuck there till the spring!

Shower your children, parents and friends with your unconditional love, connection, and ability to show up with your presence, not just presents. It may sound trite, but I truly do believe it is the thought that counts, not the cost. You probably already have everything you need – you may just need someone to help you remember that long enough to put down your wallet and take stock of your abundant life. 

Having said this it’s important to point out that Abraham Maslow was right when he built his ‘hierarchy of needs’. Should you feel that some of your basic needs of food, shelter and safety are not currently being met then it may be that you do need some support. We have some excellent charities locally that can help such as:

– Nourish Community Foodbank

– Mental Health Resource

– Porchlight

These charities allow us to support our local community as donors, as well as help those who find themselves in need, helping, as Nourish say ‘local people who have hit a bump in the road’.

All that remains to say is that I wish you a very Merry Christmas and look forward to supporting you with ideas, suggestions, and insight in the New Year. 

If you’re feeling the stress of the season mount up and think you could benefit from talking to a qualified counsellor in January, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I have availability for weekly sessions and am keen to support you back to health. 

Lucy Parker, Coach, Counsellor, and Yoga Therapist

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