A time for tidings, good cheer and empathy
By our resident coach, Arti Kashyap-Aynsley, aka The Wellness Chief
It’s the 1st of December and as most would see it and know it as the official start to the festive season, which for some means glorious things and for others quite scary and uncomfortable things. This is the season that whilst can sprinkle mounds of joy around everyone can also be a time that brings up stress, loneliness, discomfort and other things alike.
But for some reason we rarely raise, hear or chat about the negative things that this season can bring, instead we are often inundated by messages of joy and good cheer.
Now I am someone who literally lives for Christmas. Since I was a kid I have been obsessed with tradition. I love the idea of having a tree all decorated, lights all over the place, Christmas music and movies, loads of get togethers, secret Santa’s, private and special moments with friends and family, you name it. This season fills me up with so much joy and happiness. I mean I think outside my birthday this is the time of year I literally live for.
But I also recognise that isn’t what everyone experiences, and until a couple of years ago, not sure I really understood that.
As someone who lives quite far from the people, things and traditions I grew up with. I look forward to December for trips home, reunions and just a chance to get lost in time forgetting that there is any bit of space that ever separates me from loved ones. But a couple of years ago when I experienced my first Christmas away from home, I never recognised the toll it would take on me. The whole period as much as I rushed to try and fill it with things that could create new traditions just didn’t seem to work. I was uncomfortable, upset, in search of normalcy, lonely even if I had people around, overcome by panic and suffocation from not being in my own space, I mean the list could just go on. The reality is I sat there for the first time ever hoping that the days would just move on as quickly as possible so the whole season could be done with – I wanted no more reminders and / or experiences of what I was feeling and / or missing out on.
Now the thing I also recognise is that what came up for me does come from a place of privilege. I was still surrounded by great family and friends; I just didn’t have the things I was used to around me within the grasp of a hand (more of a first world problem to have), which made me appreciate those things more but also made me realise the truth behind how this season can feel and look like for others.
We always talk about the less fortunate during this time of year and there are never any shortages of requests to donate and give back, but one thing I think that does go without talking about much, is that outside of the “need” people might have for tangible things, there is also a need to gain empathy and understanding for what this season can really do to and bring up for people. And I mean things such as the financial, emotional and mental strain that this season can raise.
Which is why in my day job as the wellbeing leader for a large corporate we are taking December to reflect on how we can survive the festive season, by looking at topics such as financial wellbeing, mental health, the ability to cut back / down on requests / asks and pressures and the overall idea of what giving back could look like. The focus isn’t to suck the joy out of the season, but rather to help us all gain a bit more empathy to what we and / or those around us could be experiencing but not necessarily talking about. Which also aligns to what we are really championing on this platform this month.
So, as we start December and I put out this post, I challenge you all to think about what you could do this festive season for someone around you – whether that is a cause, an individual, a campaign, etc. and share what you decide to do with us. We would love to hear it.
For me as we head into the month, I find myself in yet my second experience of not being able to be home surrounded by the traditions I am used to and am therefore focused on carving out space to take care of my mental health and to also do some work with Mind – the Mental Health Charity here in the UK, to support those that are going through challenges this season.
I will share more about both my and those of this communities experiences in my next post later this month. But until then I wish you all the most amazing starts to this December and the reminder to take care of yourself and those around you this festive season. Remember that it is okay to not be in love with this season and to be feeling whatever you could be.
Thanks again for letting me reflect and hold this weeks’ space. In my next post as I reflect on the experiences this community has been having on giving back, I will also start to address the idea of using this period for reflection and what and how that could look. If you have any questions and / or thoughts around the topic, please do let me know as I am keen to keep the discussion open, fluid and helpful. Please feel free to reach out directly to me either on the socials or email @ firstname.lastname@example.org, with anything on your mind
Have a blessed start to the month and week,
Arti aka. The Wellness Chief xx