Skip to content

The seasonal guilt

The festive season is a lot of fun for most of us. Parties, presents, plenty of food and time with the people we care about the most (and the odd person we’d rather avoid). It’s also the time of year when people need more support than ever. Hospitals and support hotlines are busy dealing with various ranges of tragedy that emerges when people spend more time together than usual (or travelling to each other).

The thing I see in many of my clients, especially the expats, is what I call the seasonal guilt. Because with the festive season comes the heavy burden of ‘should’. It can take different shapes for different people, but a few of the most common things I help clients manage are:

  • Overcommitting. You can’t be in more than one place at once, but sometimes we forget this. Some people like to be busy (if that’s you, it’s perfectly fine). Just remember that overcommitting is actually not good for you OR the people you’re trying to accommodate. Lock in the key things, be realistic and stick to that. Anything else that comes in later can be a bonus – but only if you feel like going!
  • Not being there. You will miss something or someone. It’s inevitable (especially if you live far away from family and friends). Accept that this is the case and make the most of it. Get creative and open Christmas presents via Skype or FaceTime. Technology can’t replace the hug you want, but it certainly goes a long way.
  • Forgetting about you. Back to the first point a bit. Remember to look after YOU. I see sooooo many people (especially women) who think about everyone else first and themselves last. Often they then get resentful (in their own mind or out loud) about it. You need to look after what you want and what’s going to nurture you and set some boundaries around it. It’s very similar to the whole ‘put your own mask on before you help others‘ analogy from airplanes. Make sure you’re strong so you can support and celebrate with the people you care about.

How does this normally play out for you during the festive season? And what’s your best way of managing the guilt around “I really should do…“?