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How to cope with Christmas

'Tis the season to be jolly, but Christmas might be far from jolly for you. It’s the time when we might need coping skills more than any other time.

Here are some tips on how to get through it all in the best possible shape.

  1. Make a budget and stick to it. You can still have a nice time without cracking the credit card.
  2. If there are stressful, 'prickly' family occasions you don't absolutely have to go to, don't! And ...
  3. ... it might be hard to say no, but you can do it (see How to say NO).
  4. If you do decide to go to a difficult family get-together, be as positive as you can about it. Don’t nag and whinge at yourself – you’ll get through it, and who knows, you might even enjoy it.
  5. Be proactive - prepare by using good self-talk leading up to the event.
    For example, "I know Uncle Fred might bring up that old button-pusher, but I can cope, I'll ignore it. The more he pushes it, the more I'll ignore it. I'll keep my cool. It's only for a few hours anyway."

Getting through Christmas

Man showing stress of Christmas

It's not just family friction that causes problems at Xmas.

Family issues are still there for many (here's more about coping with Christmas), but that's not the only Xmas related problem. Take the word Xmas. As you read this, you might be fuming that I even used the shortened form of the word. Yet the early Christians used it frequently. Here's what Grammarly has to say:

"Chi (or X) is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ. In the early days of the Christian church, Christians used the letter X as a secret symbol to indicate their membership in the church to others. If you know the Greek meaning of X, Xmas and Christmas essentially mean the same thing: Christ + mas = Christmas."

Thanks, Grammarly. Hopefully that's one problem out of the way.

Next, there are dietary problems. If you're a vegan or a vegetarian, the food at Christmas is a nightmare. It's a meat-lovers paradise, and even the Christmas pudding has suet (beef fat) in it. To alleviate dietary stress, here are a few tips. Be assertive; kindly and firmly stick to your nutritional choices. Bring your own, including a slice of Xmas pudding; if they love you, they won't mind. If it's a serve-yourself, you're home and hosed. Hog the roast potatoes and veggies (they're usually cooked in vegetable oil these days), and there's always bread.

Happy 'Mindful Christmas'

Happy 'Mindful Christmas'!

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, everything seems to be busier and noisier at this time of the year and stress levels can rise as a result.

So I'd like to wish you a mindful Christmas and New Year and this article – 'A Mindful Christmas' - has some hints on how to make your way into the new year in a less stressful way.

If you do celebrate Christmas - I'd like to wish you a very merry one and a Happy New Year.

A Mindful Christmas

In my last post, I talked about what mindfulness is and you can visit (re-visit) that here.

My definition is: 'Mindfulness is engaging our "observational self" for the purposes of meditation, self-development and to help with managing uncomfortable thoughts, emotions and sensations”.

The 'observational self' is our ability to be self-aware and watch our thoughts and feelings from a mindful perspective, rather than being so caught up in, and reactive to them.

How to cope with Christmas and the family

'Tis the season to be jolly, but it's also the time when we might need coping skills more than any other time.

Here are some tips on how to get through it all in the best possible shape.

How to get your teenager to do chores

If you don't mind doing everything for your teens (especially during that really hard year 12 period), read on anyway, you might find something here for you. But if you're at your wit's end because you're endlessly doing everything for them (including being the family taxi) and you can't get them to help with anything, this could help.

First, here's the battleground from both points of view.

Teens – you want to be treated like an adult but you don't want the responsibility of behaving like one around the house. Come on, don't pout, you know you can't have your cake and eat it too. There are plenty of ways you can assert your independence without being a slob.

Parents - nagging and whinging are not great ways to get anyone to do anything regardless of their age. Be adult, be assertive, plan, execute, stick to it.

The issue

Young people are not trained from an early age to do things for themselves. Then, suddenly, they're expected to pitch in. They're not trained to do it, they're trained not to. Not that it's ever too late by any means.

If you did start early with your children, congratulations, but that doesn't necessarily mean because they know how to wash their clothes that they will wash them when there are other priorities like study, going out, hooking up on the Internet etc.

If things have gotten to breaking point for you as parents, here are a few tactics you might like to try.

Behaviour modification for parents and teenagers

Parents often complain about the behaviour of their teenagers. So what are some good ways to cope with teenage behaviour?

First, understand that when your teen is pushing you away or doing things they know annoy you or not doing things to contribute to the household, that’s their job. They are caught in an ‘in between’ stage that is the transition between being a kid and being a grown-up. It’s their job to individuate and become independent, but we don’t have any ‘rites of passage’ or ‘Initiations’ for doing this any more. So young people do it the only way they can and that is, to rebel against their parents.

At the same time, as a young adult, how do you cope with seemingly nagging and ever-demanding parents who are making you do things and stopping you from doing things? That’s their job. To make rules to give you boundaries to push against. Otherwise what would you have to rebel against? Also having parents who impose boundaries tends to make you feel more secure because their rule-making is a sign that they are looking out for you and maybe that they even care.

There are a few simple rules for modifying behaviour that we often forget and this works both ways, for parents and teenagers.

How to parent adult children still living at home

Young people are leaving home later and later in the new millennium. The number of young people still living at home has grown by a whopping 50% since the late 80’s according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which also says that; a third of young people over 20 still live at home; more than half had tried moving out of home but didn’t like it; and when they do move out it’s not for long. Before you can say “Freedom!” they’re back again. Currently the average age young people move out is 28.

Many parents don’t mind their children living at home but find fights often break out over boundary and contribution issues. Instead of their young adults being a pleasure they’re a pain!

So what can parents do to address some of the more common issues that arise? For example them taking responsibility for their everyday lives, who pays for what, household and garden upkeep, use of family equipment such as the family car, sex, and drugs (including alcohol and tobacco).

How to cope with teenage 'bad' behaviour

First remember that 'bad' is a subjective word and what you think is 'bad' may, or may not be. If we're not going to play the 'blame game' we could try substituting 'bad' for 'irresponsible' or 'unacceptable'.

So, supposing their behaviour is unacceptable or irresponsible, try and remember that it's their job to question your authority at this time. They are still growing and developing and that includes their brain, which will keep growing and developing until they're 26. This might be a possible reason why one study showed the average age of children leaving home was 28 (see 'How to parent adult children still living at home').

As a consequence of us not having any 'Rites of Passage' or 'Rituals' for the transition to adulthood, we have invented the 'Teenager', a kind of 'no person's land' where young people, having no template to follow, have made up their own – for better or worse. Also let's remember the agony of our own 'between years' of raging hormones and pimples. 'It ain't easy' on either side, but being the parent means having the responsibility of guiding your children (as best you can) into adulthood while not 'crowding' them, but giving them enough rules and boundaries to push against so that they can individuate and become independent. Some or all of the following might be helpful ...

Ten ways for teenagers to cope with school/uni stress

Group of students studying at university

What are you stressing about?

Getting back to study

Remember what’s worked for you in the past and make a list to remind you now. For new students, try and get into a routine that works for you and stick to it.

Choose a study place and set it up to suit you with all your study materials organised so you can easily find stuff.  When you settle down in your study place it’s much easier to get into study mode.

Not coping with the material

If you’re floundering with the material and feeling overwhelmed, identify the key areas where you’re not keeping up and either allocate more study time to those areas or ask for extra help from teachers, parents and maybe even a short period of tutoring. Sometimes peer tutoring works for short periods of time (that’s asking a fellow student who’s breezing through the stuff you’re struggling with and getting them to help out to get you on track).