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It’s OK to say ‘no’ this Christmas

It’s OK to say ‘no’ this Christmas

At this time of the year, many of us find ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of managing expectations and stress associated with the festive season. Prioritising self-care is not just a choice; it’s the right thing to do for ourselves.

For many, the Christmas period becomes a source of stress and anxiety as we grapple with the pressure to say yes to invitations for various work, social, or family events. It’s important to recognise that you might not feel comfortable attending these events or even Christmas day, due to your own needs.

We want to reassure you that it is OK to say no.

No to the uncomfortable dinner with people in loud social settings, no to family gatherings that always leave you drained or back at your psychologist’s office. No to feeling pressured to buy presents you cannot afford.

The societal expectation to automatically say yes during this time of year can be overwhelming. However, it’s crucial to understand that this expectation is a social construct, and not everyone fits neatly into it. What if you don’t follow any religion, or Christmas brings up painful memories? What if you find yourself without company during the holidays, or you’re grieving a loss? There are so many ‘what ifs’ to consider.

Take the time to listen to yourself and prioritise what will genuinely make you feel comfortable and safe this holiday season.

Our co-design buddy, Anne, penned a thoughtful letter years ago reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas — being kind and compassionate to others and yourself. [Read below] Nothing could ring truer at this time of the year.

The Finding North Co-Design group wants to let you know that it is okay to say no to Christmas. It’s okay to spend the holiday alone if that’s your choice. It’s okay to reach out to others if you don’t want to be alone. It’s okay to embrace the season with all its festivities. And it’s more than okay to ask about someone’s plans over the Christmas period; it might just help someone feel seen.

Drawing from our diverse lived experiences, we reflected that we’ve all felt the lows of the holiday season. And you know what? It is only one day out of the whole year.

Let’s carry the spirit of understanding, empathy, and self-care with us into every day, and remember, it’s still OK to say no to Christmas.

-Finding North Co-Design Team

A Holiday Reminder

“As we sit down with our families to share our Christmas meal, spare a thought for those who do not have a family to be with, or even a place to call home.  We may complain about our own circumstances, we may find many family situations difficult. But for just one moment think what your life would be like if everything and everyone you have in your life was no longer there. 

To actually understand what this would be like, is difficult, we just haven’t got time.  We are so busy doing everything for the big day, we haven’t got the time to reflect on other people, we have decorations to put up, cards to write, presents to buy and wrap, food to buy and prepare, but what a contradiction of the true meaning of Christmas. 

I am often saddened that we as a society do not give to each other what we really need.  It doesn’t cost anything financially and only takes a little of our time, what might this be.  

It is our love and compassion for each other, to be given freely, not selectively, but for every human being in our everyday life.

Smiling at everyone as we go about our lives, saying hello as we pass people in the street, thanking people and wishing them a pleasant day, all of these are expressions of our respect and love for our fellow man.  We may know what our neighbours and colleagues are doing for Christmas, but what about other members of society the ones that we may not normally come into contact with and do we really care. 

What Christmas signifies and means to each of us will vary, but the true spirit of Christmas is a celebration of the life we have been given, we are not here in isolation, but with every member of our society.  Many people generously give toys and food at Christmas enabling others to celebrate Christmas and these things are central to our celebration.  However, I believe that the best gift we can give to each other is the gift of ourselves. 

Every day in our newspapers we read of the plight of the homeless, but do we really understand, how can we relate to their circumstances, as our lives are so far removed from theirs.  How many of us are aware that many of the “homeless” have previously been functioning members of society and because of many different life experiences they have lost their homes and their lives.  Some of the reasons for homelessness are alcohol, gambling, physical or sexual abuse and mental illness and it does not discriminate, homeless people are from all walks of life and areas of society, surprise, surprise.

We as a society need to show compassion and understanding and not turn our backs on our citizens who need us the most.   

I challenge everyone to reach out and give something meaningful this Christmas, give the gift of yourself, you will be amazed at the gifts you will receive by taking time to give a smile and say hello.

Technology may have changed our society, however we are social creatures and our needs have not changed.  As humans the things we need to survive have never changed, we need food, shelter, something meaningful to do and someone to love.

Merry Christmas to Everyone”

-Anne Barbara

Finding North has added some services working over Christmas if you need a break and someone to talk to.

To find a support services in your area, visit our Get Help and Emergency Support pages below.

Emergency Help Get Help Finding North Network

Wishing you a Christmas filled with self-care and understanding. And remember, it’s ok to not be ok. There are people and services ready to support you through the season.

It’s never too late to reach out.

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