12 steps to a stress-free Christmas
1/ Start with stillness: Before starting teh Christmas rush, go somewhere quiet to gain a sense of poise. "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.
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: 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: 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. Spare a prayer for those in need and, when you can, make a difference in practical ways.
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.
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.
12/ Give beyond the gifts: 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.
(Writers, Tony Lobl and Kay Stroud, share ideas about the relationship between thought, spirituality and health. Read more at www. health4thinkers.com)