2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Category: Stress

How to cope with a big family event!

The poll

The December Facebook poll has been and gone. 2 Spuds asked you the following –
How to cope with a big family event
Or
Steps to coping with December and January
The majority went with how to cope with a big family event.

So how do we do it?

I would love to turn round to you and say eat, drink, be merry and speak your mind but we all know that could end you up in more trouble than it is worth. However, you can still have a great Christmas with these simple ways.

Look after yourself

First things first is to look after yourself. Remember that 2 Spuds likes the “me time” approach. This can work in two ways. One way is to read a book, take a bath or go for a walk but the other side to “me time” is to remove yourself from a stressful situation. Take time to breathe, think about what has happened in a stressful situation (or argument) and then be able to move on from it as well. We are aware that it is easier said than done but trust us.

Family events

2 Spuds is fully aware that family events can be a stressful experience. You have your great Aunt Joan asking you when you are settling down to start a family and you have just broken up with your partner. You could have your Uncle Lenny asking you what you are doing with your life now that you seem to be unemployed (again!). Your parents are doing their best to welcome your new fiancée to the family but have gone so far over the top that it is just embarrassing. You could have a child who has decided that now is the best time to come down with a chest infection/chicken pox/the flu and many different people are giving you their top tips to help soothe them. The list is endless of scenarios and that is before we have gotten to the dinner table where the chef has prepared all day and last minute finds out that Tony has become vegan and forgot to mention it. Or Sandra is now allergic to turkey.

NB: All names and scenarios have been changed to protect people in the story.

NB (again): My parents were fantastic with my fiancée and 2 Spuds enjoys a full Christmas meal with all the trimmings and extra chocolate.

The point

The point of the above is that it could be you on Christmas Day. All you want to do is huddle under the duvet cover with Christmassy films, a massive box of chocolates, glass of wine and for someone to wake you up when it is all over. However, you find yourself in your best dress, with a paper hat, pulling a cracker and saying oooo when the turkey arrives on the table.

What do you do?

Well the short answer is to try and get on with it as best you can or alternatively try and see the funny side of it. I personally find that if I am laughing at the situation it can’t be that bad. Be upfront with people and don’t be afraid to say, I’m sorry I don’t want to discuss the inner workings of my relationship over the Christmas Pudding. Remember also to take some time out. Again don’t be afraid to say I am going for a walk, I am stepping outside for a few minutes or I am going to go and read a book for an hour and so on. This is your Christmas as well as everyone else.

Alcohol

Not being much of a drinker these days (I am sure there is a certain ex work manager who will recount a Christmas story of the River Thames and a glass of Whisky back in my youth but I will leave that story for another day!) I can’t say too much here. However, what I am aware of is a lot of alcohol and a stressful environment is not a good combination. You have more confidence when tipsy but that may not be a good thing. You don’t want to be remembered the following Christmas for standing up on the table and ranting about how much you would like to be in sunnier climes or found crying under the Christmas tree.

What happens if we have an argument or someone makes me cry?

Don’t panic is the first step here. The second is to remove yourself from whatever the situation is and breathe. These steps are simple yet effective. Take time to recover, call a friend or speak to a family member as well. Also try and draw a line under the situation and carry on having fun.

Side note into loneliness

I know we are talking about families but there are two more sides to a family event. One may be that you are surrounded by family on a big holiday and you have never felt more alone. It is that weird thing when surrounded by people that sometimes you feel like you are on an island. I would say talk to someone about this. Try and talk to a family member about you feel or in any doubt call the Samaritans helpline.

The other side to loneliness

Some people may be on their own this Christmas. Either through choice or through a situation which is out with their control. Again try and speak to someone. A friend, relative, neighbour, Samaritans or equivalent.

The bottom line with loneliness

There is no need to suffer through loneliness this Christmas. There are many people out there who can help you. You are welcome to drop 2 Spuds an email as well to say hello.

Boxing Day

Try and go for a walk to blow away any dramas from Christmas Day. Go out with your friends or your favourite uncle. Go to the local pub for a pint of orange juice. Watch Christmassy films on TV. The list is endless but the point is Christmas is one day a year, make the most of it and most importantly look after yourselves.

-Helen

PS. If you do need support over the festive period please visit our support page or contact 2 Spuds in a Pod.

That time of year (lists)

It’s getting to “that time of year” again. The time when we need lists. What to buy lists, what to get at the supermarket lists, a general “to do” list to make sure the Christmas decorations go up and I am sure a few more list ideas too.

This blog is to do with just that. Rosie and I are aware we covered this in June but thought as it was a very big topic for this time of year we would re-visit it.

Writing a list

Making a list can be a massive step forward but it can also help you de-stress. Jotting something down means you can remember it better and things tend to happen in the right order. I mean it would be a disaster if you cooked all the vegetables, made the gravy, the Yorkshire puds were baked and then you put the turkey in. As I say, not a good way forward. A list can make sure we get everything done we need to do so we can relax and enjoy.

Being accountable with a list

The other point to make here about lists is that you are then accountable for it. If you stick the list up on the fridge door at home, then other people are there to help you remember it too. It is amazing once you write something down how concrete it can be and therefore you remember it.

Rosie and I are both list people

After a sleepless night due to loads of tasks to complete for our Wedding we took to a list and had a very restful night the next time bedtime rolled around. We had highlighted sections on our list for different elements. We had flowers, cars, who had to be paid, who we had to confirm certain items with (like our photographer), we even had on our list to remember to eat on the night before the Wedding. The final item on our list was to turn up to the Wedding and have loads of fun. Now that was more a of comedy one, but it put a little bit of laughter amongst the tasks.

Try making a list right now and see if it empties your brain so you can then think about the basics of a good night’s sleep and that all important “me time”.

Lists

Just in case you have forgotten what a list may look like I have included a small one below. 

  • Get milk. 
  • Pick up dry cleaning. 
  • Invite Bob and Charlie for dinner. 
  • Call Sandra and check on her Mum’s health. 
  • Buy and wrap Billy’s Christmas present. 
  • Double check holiday insurance for February. 
  • Call GP and renew prescription. 
  • Be kind to myself and take some “me time”.

Let me do the list one more time with ticks, notes and so on.

  • Get milk.
  • Pick up dry cleaning.
  • Invite Bob and Charlie to dinner (called them and left a message, will try again tomorrow).
  • Call Sandra and check on her Mum’s health (texted Sandra as she said she was in the hospital).
  • Buy and wrap Billy’s Christmas present.
  • Double check holiday insurance for February.
  • Call GP and renew medication.
  • Be kind to myself and take some “me time” (booked in for a massage on Sunday morning).

The list looks a look less scary with a few completed tasks on it doesn’t it?

Simple yet effective

As I say a list is simple yet effective. I always start with the easier stuff as it is then ticked off before moving on to the more time consuming and harder items. Setting an hour allows you to complete some of the list but does not then take up your entire evening. I find this works best in my opinion. Try it and see what happens.

Pick the easiest option then build it from there (and don’t beat yourself up over it)

The most important element to remember is to start with a small task and work your up to the bigger ones. There is absolutely no point in beating yourself up over something that in the end is the smallest task of them all. The private counsellor that Rosie was working with said to her to take each task and think about it. She had to think what it would achieve and at the end of day would anyone suffer from her not doing it. I always thought that was a good way to look at a task.

A minor task

I have a mountain of washing up to do from dinner and the clothes from this morning are still in the washing machine which I forgot to take out this morning, I am exhausted and have no idea on where to start to sort all of this out. Now which task do you do first? You could leave the washing up (or stick it in a dishwasher if you have one) and deal with the clothes or you could leave both. The dishes will still need washing up the next morning and the clothes can be washed again. Do you see the difference? If you didn’t do either task not too much is going to change and more importantly no one is going to suffer from you not doing it.

An important task

Take this for example, you have run out of medication for your mental health condition, the new one is sitting at your local pharmacy and you need to go and get it. Now this is a more pressing task to get sorted. You need your medication at the end of the day, and you are going to suffer if you do not get it sorted.

I hope that all makes sense

As I say have a look at the situation you are involved with and the tasks that need to be accomplished. If no one is going to suffer then leave it. If you (or someone else) is going to suffer then do it. This is how we determine what to do and what not to do. You will get around to washing those dishes but not much is going to happen if they are not dealt with immediately.

Stop and think

Stop and think about it next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation and ask yourself these very questions. It is not a selfish act in any way. It is differentiating between right now and a few hours later.

Alternatively

Alternatively, if you have a friend, a partner, a husband, a wife, a mother, a father or anyone else who can help you out then ask them.

-Helen

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