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Forget perfection at Christmas counsellor advises

By Susan Gately - 24 December, 2015

Mary Johnston, Specialist in Counselling, Accord

Mary Johnston, Specialist in Counselling, Accord

Christmas can be a difficult time for families and it is wise for them not to put themselves under the pressure of having to provide the ‘perfect Christmas’.

This is particularly so where there are tensions between a couple in the family.

So says Mary Johnston, a specialist in counselling with the marriage support agency, Accord.

“Christmas can be hard,” she told CatholicIreland.net

“The extended family are involved and you can be with people who haven’t been together for a while.”

She advised people to remember that Christmas is about family. “It is about people we love and spending time with them.”

She advised parents to manage expectations in the family. “Be careful about [having] the expectations of the perfect family, the perfect Christmas and the perfect gifts. They can cause a lot of stress to people trying to get everything done.”

Ms Johnston said the way to avoid stress was to keep the focus on Christmas, “family time, time for children and time together”.

She advised couples to look at their expectations for Christmas.

“Be realistic about how Christmas can be. If you are not the richest people, you are not going to be able to do some of the things that maybe you see on television.”

Alcohol in excess can add to family tensions, said Ms Johnston. “Drink in moderation. Enjoy yourself but be careful not to overdo it as the overuse of alcohol or any other substance can add to tensions and frustrations.”

Take it easy and remember what Christmas is all about, she added.

In its ‘Ultimate Christmas Guide’ Drinkaware says people are more likely to enjoy Christmas when they don’t overindulge. “Eat well, drink plenty of water, and give yourself some alcohol-free nights and plenty of rest.”

The charity developed by MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society Ltd) advises people to pace themselves when it comes to alcohol with “water or a soft drink after every alcoholic drink and you’ll sparkle all night long. To feel festive the next day, eat well before a big night out, or at least have snacks or a meal with your drink.”

The guide includes public transport timetables and advises people to plan transport before they go out.

“Have a taxi number saved in your phone before you go out, or install the Hailo taxi app if you’ve got a smartphone. Check out public transport timetables, too, since most providers offer extended services around this time of year.”

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