STARTING to get stressed about the Christmas rush?
Presents to buy? Family to cater for? Simply not enough hours in the day?
Why not take a deep breath, put your feet up for five minutes and read KAY STROUD's 12 steps to a stress-free Christmas?
1. Start with stillness: There is always so much to be done before Christmas, so before starting go somewhere quiet to gain a sense of poise. It might be your greatest gift to family and friends, as well as fellow workers, shoppers and shop assistants. Be the calm you want to see!
2. Let love lead you: Take opportunities to spread seasonal "peace and goodwill”. Reordering priorities to do everything with intentional love can bring a sense of calmness and control, allowing you to get everything done more smoothly.
3. Value family and friends: As you sign, seal and send your Christmas cards (via email or snail-mail) treat each one as an opportunity to value the person you are sending it to.
4. Be kind to yourself and others: Research shows kindness is good for your health. So saying sorry, no matter who causes the collision, might be the way to negotiate crowded streets, transport and busy shopping centres.
5. Shop ethically: "Treat others as you would like to be treated” (the Golden Rule) could translate to "love the Christmas crowds as you would want them to love you”.
6. Embrace spontaneity: The need to balance work, domestic duties and social activities is always more acute at Christmas time. Keeping an open mind and making room for flexibility as each day unfolds reduces stress and increases joy.
7. Be grateful: Scientists are accumulating evidence which verifies what spiritual thinkers would affirm from experience: a gratitude attitude can reduce anxiety and depression.
8. Enjoy yourself: If you're full of gratitude and exuding calmness and kindness why shouldn't you cruise happily towards the kind of Christmas you enjoy? Appreciate the festive lights. Share in the growing anticipation of your children. Meditate on the Christmas story and let the message inspire you.
9. Don't forget others: For some reason the season of goodwill seems to bring out the worst in many people's experience. Loneliness feels more lonely. Alcoholism seems to be more obvious. Domestic tensions can spiral. Spare a prayer for those in need and, when you can, make a difference in practical ways. The message of Christmas is that peace and goodwill are good for your health.
10. Peace interludes: Pausing for moments of mental stillness can make all the difference, even transform your day. Be honestly aware of your thoughts and when they start going round in circles or racing in a wrong direction steer them back to that place of spiritual poise. "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.” (Mary Baker Eddy)
11. Forgive even if you can't forget: It's amazing how long family feuds and broken friendships can last if we're not careful. The run-up to Christmas offers an opportunity to review and revise our mental list of grievances before they ruin our holiday break or, even worse, our health. The Mayo Clinic reports that forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. We can't always change others. But we can change how we think about them and act towards them.
12. Give beyond the gifts: And finally it's Christmas day. Does it need to be religious? Not necessarily. But there is a reason to celebrate Jesus. One way to look at his life is that he showed us how the qualities we choose to express can improve our experience and touch our loved ones and neighbours.
Local writer and practitioner of Christian science, Kay Stroud, teams with Tony Lobl for this Christmas inspiration. She writes about the relationship between thought, spirituality and health, and trends in that field www.health4thinkers.com
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