As we move closer towards Christmas, it seems that we get busier.  Along with this comes multiple stressors — attending various social functions; decorating the house and tree; planning the gifts; preparing food and so on.  I’m sure that many of you could add another stress factor or two into the mix.
In past years I’ve had work commitments plus hosted christmas lunch.  Not that I ever had to do it all on my own, other family members shared the meal preparations, which has been great.  But there is always the worry that perhaps there won’t be enough food — the reality is that usually there is too much food, and we are stuck with all these leftovers despite sending food home with people!
Then there is the stress of money — or lack of.  Despite attempting to spread the load cost-wise for food, someone always seems to end up with a larger share.  Add to that the cost of buying presents then that can mean serious financial hardship.
In my early married life, I can remember sitting up till the wee hours on Christmas morning finishing off the gifts I’d made to save money.  There is a certain satisfaction in that, but it can also mean lots of stress.
Or the time we as a family made the decision that we weren’t going to buy presents for everybody, just for the children.  Then when we arrived with our share of the food, we discovered that not all of those attending had got this memo, and we were embarrassed because we didn’t have presents for everyone.  In hindsight that should have been our cue to turn around and go home, but unfortunately you cannot predict the future, so we stayed, had a great day until it all came unstuck because of too much alcohol.  But I prefer to remember the good parts of the day, because focusing on the unpleasant can lead to more stress.
So with all the stress surrounding us at this time of the year, what do we do to relieve it?
I  walk every day for a minimum of twenty minutes, which I find quite relaxing and rather therapeutic.  Then I use my essential oils, I diffuse them around the house, inhale them directly when I find myself getting uptight.  I also use them in a relaxing bath – Lavender plus  some Epsom salts, dim the lights, play some relaxing music and just lie there for twenty minutes or so.  It can really make such a difference in that it relaxes and sets you up for a great nights sleep.
Getting a good sleep is so important, especially at such a busy time.  After a good seven or eight hours you can achieve so much more, be calmer and can plan a lot better.
This year I’m making a point to take more care of myself, so I don’t get too stressed like past years.  Sometimes I just go and sit quietly, pick up my crochet and do a few rounds before getting back to my lists.  Deep breathing works well too.
So what will you do to de-stress this week?

Christmas Blues

It’s that time of the week again, and I’m feeling a little melancholy.

Earlier today I had the pleasure of attending a breakfast meeting at the local chapter of BNI – the Bay City group in Geelong.

It was an informative and interesting meeting, and there were a few people there with whom I’d like to connect again – but that’s the whole idea of the group – networking.

I’d been invited to go along with the view of promoting my book, and I have been asked if I would like to come back early next year to talk about it.   So that’s great news for me, because it’s really time to promote the book, and to live up to my promise that I would get the message out that we all have a responsibility in preventing suicide.

After the meeting, a member came up to me and introduced himself, and then proceeded to talk about a suicide that had occurred yesterday here in Geelong. We seem to be getting more than our fair share of them lately.

We talked for a while and he was quite upset, despite not being closely associated with the family of the victim.

Now hearing these types of stories is nothing new for me, in fact I get it a lot since I have written the book, and started talking about it. All of these sad stories touch me deeply, but this morning it really had an effect on me.

As I walked back to my car I kept thinking “Crap!!” ‘Shit!!” There’s another family in total devastation and just before Christmas too. Not that it is really any different at another time of the year. It’s just that Christmas comes with it’s own special reminders, and to have a suicide fall into that time is doubly painful.

So now we are coming into that period of time that wherever you go, people are saying “Merry Christmas” and “Have a lovely Christmas”. It can be difficult when you are thinking that there isn’t much to celebrate when a loved one is not there anymore. My first few Christmases after Kelly died were awful, especially the initial one. I think I cried most of the day, but now I just remember her as the special person she was to me and to many others. I still get sad that she’s not here in the flesh, but I know her spirit is with us and I choose to honour that.

I set out to save a life, and I may never know if I have, but I’m going to think that if I haven’t already, then I will shortly. Kelly’s story is probably not much different from thousands of others, but in telling it, my hope is that it will resonate enough to make a difference in the life of some one.

Since starting to write this post, I have been asked to tell my story to three different groups next year, so I will definitely be honouring my promise to Kelly.

Now as someone cheerfully pointed out this morning – there are only twelve more sleeps until Christmas day – to me it is not about presents anymore, but rather about being with the people that matter to you.

And, if you can’t be with them, remember them and enjoy the memories.