Approaching Christmas

It's 'that' time of year and I guess that means something different for each one of us. One thing I have noticed that seems consistent among most of us, is the need to get things done before Christmas. That makes sense when you think that a good number of us will take time off and therefore be unavailable at the end of December and for some time into January.

Other things that are consistent amongst many of us are Christmas get togethers and Christmas shopping. So we are fitting in a few more social activities, eating or drinking more than normal and making more visits to the shops and, despite online shopping, the shopping centres are still manic! We are trying to find the right gifts for our spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, friends, siblings, co-workers and those who have touched our lives in a positive way throughout the year. Stretching the budget, packing more in to our time.

Many are busy planning and preparing for events, or a special Christmas meal and may be gearing up for spending more time with family - evoking many different emotions.

End of year busyness. More things to do, more stressors, but no more time.

Some feel deep sorrow at this time of year as the impact of losses is heightened. We feel more keenly the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship.

So, as we navigate this busy time of year with its melting pot of emotions ... as we engage in all the many interactions with our fellow humans, here are some of the things that can help:

Just breathe - take a moment to notice your breathing (if you're racing around the shops, I bet it's shallow!) ... pause, take a deep breath in and exhale slowly. Take two more slow deep breaths, then allow your breath to find its own natural, steady rhythm. Allow yourself to feel the calm that will flow through your body.

Be mindful - whenever you can, pause and be present in the moment. Notice what is around you, the sounds, smells, colours. Look for something beautiful - it may be a raindrop, a leaf, the face of a child, a bird or cloud in the sky. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty - you may even be able to find beauty in something broken.

Be kind - in our fast paced and often stressful world, acts and words of kindness can feel like soothing balm to a weary soul. Spare a smile, a kind word, a random act of kindness - you will receive as much as, or more than, you give.

Be grateful - take a moment to find something for which you are grateful. It may be having a particular person in your life, a place you like to visit, something you are able to do, something about your job, your health, a physical ability, maybe even gratitude for life itself.

Be forgiving - and when you forget to do any of the above and find yourself caught up in stressful activity, angst, negative thinking, irritability ... have compassion and be forgiving towards yourself and others.

We are all on this journey of being human, with the same starting point and the same end point. Mostly, we are all just doing our best with what we have, trying to get our needs met, create moments of happiness and make the most of our lives. There are mis-steps along the way for all of us, which at times cause hurt for ourself or others. We can choose to hold on to hurt or blame, or let it go - the choice is ours and the outcome is ours.

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you be safe

May you live with ease

May you flourish

Go gently.

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