This years holiday season I have decided to keep my expectations around Christmas ‘real and achievable’. What I truly desire Christmas to be will not happen due to circumstances of the pandemic. For example coming from a large family of six siblings and a lot of having large extended families, our family Christmas is usually around 60 plus people, now given the pandemic a gathering of that size in Victoria just can’t happen. So being grateful for what I have this year is of the upmost importance.

And on top of that knowing that others are in a worse situation than I am at this time of year it doesn’t sit well with me that I should feel so hard done by when what matters most is still here with me.

The Spiel

So I’d like to start off with asking you a question.

Have you ever gone Christmas shopping and bought a present for some one else and loved it so much that you bought a second one for yourself? What if I told you there is a way that you can get that same feeling of personal joy with out buying that object for yourself and will last a lot longer, especially if you like most of us are on a Christmas budget. 

Funnily enough you are already doing it. 

It’s the art and act of giving.

Giving not only perceived in society as a nice thing to do but it has some great personal benefits to you and your health as the giver:

  •   Giving is good for your health – A 1999 study led by University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organisations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers.
  • It’s contagious – when you give to some one they are likely to reward it back to you down the line as well as to others as well CREATES A RIPPLE EFFECT.
  • Giving strengthens social bonds – These exchanges promote a sense of trust and co-operation that strengthens our ties to others. Research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health as well as it also helps ADDRESS LONELINESS.
  • People who give tend to be happier as a whole than people who don’t – A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves (despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier).

Now giving can be gone in many ways and it doesn’t need to be always about buying objects which we all well too know that this can add up with expectations of buying.  And so before we move on to the different tips and strategies if you’re not in a position to spend money comfortably, JUST DON’T. As this is just going to lead to more stress in the new year trying to pay down that Christmas credit card debt.

The Tips

Give an experience or a memory

A great way to give and will last with you and that person forever. Also doesn’t need to cost anything either. This can be taking your loved ones some where that they have always wanted to see. Maybe its in the countryside or quite local but just haven’t found the time to go. Or is it a special skill you may have? Cooking a meal? Or putting on a small performance?

Give a meaningful offering of your time

A really great way for you to get your own validation in and having the feeling of being useful and valued. Ask yourself, what are you good at? Do you get you arts and crafts hat on and make a voucher for your services. Even offering to help tackle the pile of dishes at Christmas lunch is something no one can put a price on… especially if you did the cooking.

Give back – a great way to boost self esteem

This is a fabulous way to boost your own self esteem by creating more value in the community. This can be done through volunteering your time, donations to charity (this can be things that are just laying around the house you don’t use anymore), Buying a goat for a village that needs it, start a conversation with a neighbour… this just might make their day, call a mate on Christmas Day that you know has had a tough year or even inviting someone who you know will be alone on Christmas Day to your day.

Don’t forget to give to yourself

If you’re feeling alone or lonely, it’s important to reach out and talk to someone. Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about what’s going on but it could be as simple as sending a text, a message on social media, inviting someone over for a cuppa or making a phone call. If you’re supporting someone who has anxiety or depression these holidays it’s important to look after yourself too. 

Occasions like Christmas can also bring up feelings of sadness and grief for people who have lost someone special in their life. If you feel you can, talk about your loved one, share memories, laughs and tears. You may also like to spend some time alone so you can think about your loved one. It’s also OK to enjoy yourself, don’t feel guilty, it doesn’t mean you don’t miss them.

So this holiday season maybe look at other ways to give, and I promise you it will give back to you and your health just as much.

-Ben



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