We all know that Christmas is supposed to be a time of fun and relaxation, but for many it is a limitless source of stress and anxiety. From family ‘issues’ to exorbitant gift requests, the pressure to enjoy the ‘perfect’ Christmas may be so great that we feel disappointed and inadequate because our holiday somehow does not measure up to the ideal.

Here are my top 5 suggestions that have enabled me to enter into the Christmas spirit with minimal stress. 

Sometimes an image is worth a thousand words. I find I get so used to reading that I can too easily forget the power of the picture. But when I came across " target="_blank" style="color: #990000; text-decoration: none;">this film I knew I wanted to share it with you as it conveys a very serious and important message with more charm and humour than I could ever aspire to!]

Yes, it’s a cliché, but most of us have at some point felt like a cog in a machine, robotically carrying out the same tasks and raging against inanimate objects that are supposed to make our lives easier but seem to conspire against us. I could only nod in sympathy at the protagonist of the film, having just the other day experienced the frustration of the photocopier breaking down on me at an incredibly crucial moment.

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I had initially planned to write this week’s blog about something entirely different – but then life never turns out exactly as we expect! Following feedback from readers of last week’s post, I have decided to write more about the subject of change – and specifically, the kind of mindset we need to adopt in order to effect positive and lasting difference in our lives.

One of my favourite quotes is from the author Will Garcia, who writes: “The first step toward change is acceptance. Once you accept yourself, you open the door to change. That's all you have to do. Change is not something you do, it is something you allow.” I find that such an empowering concept, and it also comes as something of a relief for those of us who expect change to be effortful and exhausting.

Some people are instinctively suspicious of the idea of acceptance – they think it means resigning yourself to a bad situation, or sheer laziness in the face of a new behaviour or situation. But think of it this way for a moment: if your partner or best friend told you they were unhappy with a particular behaviour or habit of yours, had been fed up with it for ages, and wanted you to be different immediately or they’d be very unhappy, how would you feel? Would that kind of approach inspire you to change, or would you feel hurt, angry and defensive, and more likely to continue with the same behaviour?

I love this time of year - you can really feel a freshness in the air of a morning and see the leaves on the trees starting to turn. I also look forward to the nights drawing in, getting out my autumn clothes and hunkering down to a cosier existence. London is beautiful in every season, but there’s something about walking through a city park in September that fills me with excitement and optimism.

Change means different things to different people – some love the novelty and excitement, while it fills others with fear and anxiety. It’s a cliché, but the one thing that never changes in life is change. Whether we like it or not, it’s impossible to keep things as they are. The cells in our body are completely renewed every seven years, our hormones are in a constant state of flux, not to mention our moods and emotions. From one moment to the next, we are literally different people!

Whether you embrace change or find it something of a struggle is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’; but understanding your reactions can help you roll with inevitable ups and downs. If you are a ‘change junkie’ it can be worthwhile just stopping and trying to stay in the moment for a few minutes. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Now open them again. What’s going on with you right now? How do you feel?

If you have a tendency to fight change, it’s worth getting to know some of the psychology behind your resistance. There’s a great book called Changing for Good that I found really helpful in getting me through experiences that I wouldn’t have actively sought out given the choice.

The authors describe a five-part process, but in the interests of brevity, here are the three that I consider to be most significant: 

Stress seems to be in the air at the moment. You can almost physically feel it as you walk down the street and see people rushing around trying to rush the kids to school, get themselves to work on time, change gear after the summer holidays and deal with the temperamental British weather.I’ve had a pretty crazy week myself, working more than 11 hours a day, juggling working at the office, preparing for client sessions, pulling presentations together and confronting all the admin that piles up without my noticing. Oh, and not to forget coordinating a website project for the British Autogenic Society, buying a present for my best friend’s birthday and trying to fit in eating and sleeping somehow!

I know I’m not alone – you might be reading this and think, ‘lightweight, that’s nothing compared to my 14 hour day, five children to clothe and feed, etc’ – but rather than turn this into a game of stress one-upmanship I want to think a bit about how we can deal with this. Because the reality is that the stresses of life aren’t going to disappear. Short of winning the lottery we’re still going to have to make a living, and the added pressures of family and social life, sometimes combined with physical illness, can just seem like too much. 

Books I recommend....

Dethlefsen, Thorwald; Dahlke, Ruediger
The healing power of Illness
Thorsons, 1992

Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now
Hodder, 1999

Verena Cast
Father-Daughter, Mother-Son / Vater-Töchter Mutter-Söhne: Wege zur eigenen Identität aus Vater- und Mutterkomplexen
Kreuz Verlag, 1994

Boa, Fraser
The Way of the Dream
Conversations on Jungian Dream Interpretation with Marie-Louise von Franz
1992 by Estate of Fraser Boa

Janes O Prochaska, John C Norcross and Carlo C. DiClemente
Changing for Good
First Collins, 2004 

Sándor Weöres
A teljesség felé
Terricum, 1995

Therapists / Therapies I recommend...

Vivian Lord, NDNaturopathic Physician
Restore Your Natural Balance
UK:  +44 (0) 7876 896298
USA: (917) 675-4932
M: info@drvivianlord.com

Catherine Stone
Massage therapy - Sports, Deep Tissue, Traditional Thai, Swedish and Pregnancy massage, Manual lymphatic Drainage
T: 07807 553 646

Catherine Ford BTAA BAUK MBTPA

Bowen Technique Practitioner
T:  020 7731 4720
M:  info@feelbetterwithbowen.co.uk

Luther Moss
DC, MChiro, PgCert, MCC
ML Chiropractic Ltd
604 Fulham Road, Parsons Green
London, SW6 5RP
Tel: 020 7731 7640
M: luther.moss@ml-chiropractic.com