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How To Manage Expectations This Christmas by Lili Stebbings



As the saying goes, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. With all the build-up, the anticipation, the festivities, and hopes for what’s to come, it’s no surprise we expect nothing less than perfection for the big day.


However, as we know, it’s also the season where our expectations can collide with reality. Ever been left feeling disappointed from the picture-perfect day that you’d built up in your head? I’m sure lots of us can relate.


With all the hype surrounding this time of year, managing expectations is important when it comes to looking after our wellbeing. So, if you’re looking for some advice to help you navigate those feelings of overwhelm this season, here are a few tips to help you out:


Don’t compare yourself to others


With social media being a huge part of our lives nowadays, it can be easy to compare ourselves to others. However, this can come with a great deal of disappointment when we feel we’re not enjoying ourselves as much as other people. Try to spend time away from social media and focus on what makes you happy rather than what happiness looks like to other people. Does watching a Christmas film make you feel festive? Or does making gingerbread sound fun? Happiness does not have to come in the form of big, grand activities and Christmas is a great time to explore this.


Practice gratitude


When we think about what we’re already grateful for it makes everything else on top of that a huge bonus. Finding contentment in the smallest of things at this time of year can help us to avoid disappointment and stay positive. A gratitude journal is a great way to reflect and remind yourself of everything you have to be grateful for at Christmas time.


Be open-minded


Expectations that haven’t been met can often result in disappointment. We tend to have an idea of what Christmas should look like for us, and when the reality doesn’t quite match up, we can be left feeling disheartened and like we’ve failed in some way. However, by finding enjoyment in the process rather than the end result, we can be freed from our expectations and embrace flexibility.


Take time for yourself


In amongst all the chaos, taking time for ourselves is more important than ever during the Christmas period. Try to press pause on managing other people’s expectations as well as your own, and take time to reflect on what's really important during this time of year. Gift-giving, festive activities, and socialising are all part of the fun, however, if you’re stressed to the max none of these things will be as enjoyable. Try to schedule in time for yourself to destress, and check in on your mental wellbeing.


Forget about perfection, it’s all in the memories


Christmas dinner not quite gone to plan? Mixed the Christmas cards up? Or maybe your entire Christmas plans have been turned upside down? In actual fact, none of these things truly matter. The best memories often lie in the unexpected moments, so embrace the imperfection of things not going quite as planned and just know they will make for great memories in the future.


Approach every Christmas as if it’s new


If your last Christmas was a partially good one, it can be easy to assume this year will be exactly the same if not better. However, try to not base your expectations on previous years or even from when you were younger. As we grow older, Christmas can often lose its magical feel and we find less excitement in things such as presents. Instead, use the day as an opportunity to relax and spend time with family and friends. Just using the day to sit and socialise can bring joy all around.


Expectations that haven’t been met can often be the cause for disappointment at Christmas. However, approaching the day with an open mind, embracing new traditions, and finding joy in the imperfections is what really makes the season truly magical. Try to focus less on the materialistic side, and cherish the memories of spending time with the people you love.


About the author

Lili Stebbings is a freelance writer for emotional wellness and employee wellbeing companies. Starting out as a journalist writing for local and national newspapers, she went on to start her own writing business, using the skills she’d learned in the newsroom and taking inspiration from her own personal experiences to uplift, educate and inspire others.


You can follow her on LinkedIn here or email her at freelance@lilistebbings.com.

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