If you live in the UK, whether you celebrate Christmas or not doesn’t really matter. Christmas is all around. All around to the point when you start thinking about killing yourself. I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong! 🙂 But the amount of things happening around it gets a bit overwhelming sometimes. I love the decorations, everything that makes it feel like Christmas, especially here where I can’t really experience cold or snow. And these were two things that remind me strongly about this time of the year and my childhood’s family get-togethers. Whether it is a spiritual time for you or not, if you live here you will experience the Christmas rush.
And you probably also will have some free time to come back home and spend time with your families. But… would it be enough time? Everyone would try and get some of your time, everyone would tell you that you’re only here for such a short time, everyone would expect you to do stuff, everyone would expect you to buy cool presents… If you’re an expat this probably sounds familiar. How to survive all of this without sacrificing yourself and actually getting some rest as well during your holidays? How to actually spend some quality time with your friends and family without rushing from one place to another?
I don’t have a magic recipe for that, I must disappoint you. However, I’m trying to use the knowledge of positive psychology to deal with some of the difficulties of coming back home, whether it’s for the Christmas break or any other short visit.
Easier said than done… It’s not like you don’t have the right to be tired or angry or sad or you just feel like doing nothing. You do. But if you know you’re going to go home for the Christmas break just for a relatively short period of time and if you expect to be catching up with a lot of people – prepare yourself for this. Try to think about the positives of this trip. Try to acknowledge that you will probably indeed be physically tired by this. But positively tired. Because you’ve met up with the ones you haven’t seen for such a long time! You will need to put some energy into scheduling everyone in, that’s true, but it’s worth it! If you’re expecting it, it won’t throw you off that easily.
Focus on one thing at a time
Focus on the ones that you’re with at a given time. Despite the fact you don’t have that much time to spend together, if you’re with your friends and you’ve got the whole evening with them – use it as you would normally do. Catch up with them of course, but then do something you’ve always liked to do together to chill out. Watch a movie? Go to a party? Got to the pub? Play board games? Whatever works for you – as long as it reminds you of the good old times 🙂
It might be that it won’t be possible to see everyone due to various other commitments. Don’t overthink it. Make it a priority for another visit. But try not to put yourself down because of that. Let this person know that you think about him/her by sending a card or a gift, arranging skype or in any other way you feel will make you both feel better. If you’re only home for 4-5 days and part of your family is 500 km away it will be hard to meet up. Simple maths. Next time, in a less festive period try to fly to an airport nearer to them and stay at their place first. So many ways to make it happen!
Simply enjoy and embrace the time with your family. Don’t think that you will need to leave in a couple of days already. You will. You know that. You prepared for this (see point about positive attitude). Give your whole self into this moment #mindfulnessrules
I know such tips might sometimes seem obvious, easy, naïve maybe… But they made a difference to how I approach my short stays at home since I lived abroad away from my long-time friends and family. It really helps to throw regrets away and enjoy the moments you have with those people so that you have something to eagerly wait for. Instead of frantically looking for presents and thinking through how to fit everyone in your schedule.
What are the difficulties you experience when visiting home for short periods of time? How do you deal with them, especially the ones connected with some family celebrations?