Just 15 sleeps till Christmas!
What are you thinking?

When I think of Christmas; wonderful thoughts of fun, family, food, fairy lights, tinsel, trees, and laughter easily come to mind. I can't help but smile when I see the first tree or house adorned with Christmas lights. My kids and I have our traditional house decorating afternoon with lots of Christmas food, movies, music and mucking around. But it's not hard to see or prove that for many Christmas time is far from good cheer and merriment.

For many, Christmas brings fears and thoughts of stressful family gatherings, financial and relationship strains. Hectic shopping, travelling, trying to organise, attend, afford, include and cater for extended families, step families. Many struggle with loneliness and the many emotions of facing this particular time of year after losing a loved one through death or separation. This, all on top of the busyness of general day to day life.

I am no different in that I have my own family dramas to face, especially at this time of year but I choose to focus on the many positives and on what I can do to help make it the merriest (and sanest) possible time; full of love, joy and a little mistletoe!

Here's my top 10 helpful tips to draw upon over the festive season.

1. Find and focus on all the positives. 
"Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be" Abraham Lincoln. If you look you will find many reasons - great and small. You can choose to be happy - truly.

2. Practise gratitude daily. 
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie. The simplicity and beauty of gratitude is that once you make it a daily habit you begin to notice even more things to be grateful for. What you look for - you will find.

3. Remember no family is 'perfect'. 
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else has it better or easier or that they don't have to deal with difficult, know-it-all, gossiping family members that seem to cause tension and conflict. Be prepared and aware so that you don't internalise it or dwell on what they say. "It helps to remember that everyone is living from their own level of consciousness". Deepak Chopra. 

4. Remove guilt. 
Stay within your budget. A gift should be from the heart not to impress or keep up with 'the Jones's'. Remember you have to take care of your finances once everyone has gone home.

5. Santa checks his list twice!
Be prepared, so you've got everything (well as much as possible) covered and accounted for. 

6. If you have a family member struggling with loss and bereavement, don't be afraid to set a place setting, make a toast, or talk about them during such a difficult time. The person feeling the loss will be happy to share memories and openly talk about their loved one if given the opportunity. Listen to them with love. Just imagine how hard it must be for them.

7. Make the time to stop.
Many things can and should wait. Enjoy your time with loved ones. For those separated; when there are children involved don't put ex's down in front of them. Enjoy and make the most of the time you have with your children, Make a conscious effort to avoid focusing on what your ex did or didn't do to seemingly make your life harder. This is your special time with your kids, no matter how long you've got so make the most of it.

8. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

9. Help someone else. 
There are so many wonderful charities out there providing much needed support and help to those in need. People are suffering much more than many of us could imagine. Spread the Christmas spirit by donating or volunteering for a worthwhile cause. It feels good to help others, especially those less fortunate - and your help will make their Christmas time a whole lot brighter. 

10. If there are more serious issues - you don't have to face it alone. Contact lifeline or a community agency that offers telephone assistance and referrals for specific situations and circumstances.

Christmas is a time of celebration no matter what your belief is. 
You can create wonderful memories and moments to treasure.

May yours be filled with family, friends, love and joy.

› Just 15 sleeps till Christmas

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