Festive Stress-Buster

If you are anything like me then the experience of going shopping in the lead up to Christmas can be a pretty stressful activity. Aside from the chaos and overwhelm of so many people jostling about, or trying to find the perfect presents without breaking the budget, or organising food for the festive season – there’s also the stress of family get-togethers, dealing with adverse weather conditions and the risk of over-indulgence in food or drink or both!

But there is a simple solution…

Kindness!

An act of kindness, especially in the midst of chaos, not only makes you and the person you’ve helped feel better – but it can actually help counter-act some of the effects of stress from the festive season too…

We’ve all heard of the ripple-effect: where an action we take has an impact that ripples out like small waves from a pebble dropped in a pond. So if we give the gift of kindness with a smile, or a helping hand, then that will not only benefit the person we’ve helped, but it may well influence how they act towards others and the ripples continue spreading. What a wonderful gift to share!

But watching David R. Hamilton’s short video message has taught me something I didn’t know – that the chemicals produced when we connect with someone through an act of kindness can actually counter-act the effects of stress that we might be experiencing due to other pressures of the festive season. In fact, David suggests that a genuine hug can even lead to us having a healthy heart!

Now – I’ve done a wee bit of study into the physiological and mental impacts of stress, and the stress-hormones that are created within our bodies, and ANY way to reduce the impact of these stressful times is well worth trying. So, here’s a festive challenge for you wrapped up as a gift:

  • When you are in a busy shop, take a moment to really thank the person serving you, and acknowledge how challenging it must be to deal with demanding customers at this time of year. Try this even if the service wasn’t as festive as you’d have liked!
  • Smile at someone when you are standing at a bus stop, walking down the street in the snow, or waiting in a queue. Make eye contact with them briefly, and share a genuine smile – most people will smile back automatically (it is almost contagious!)
  • Plan a small Christmas gift for someone you wouldn’t normally give to. It could be a neighbour you don’t know well, an acquaintance or someone random. The gift itself doesn’t have to be much – homemade sweeties, a beautiful card or a scratch-lottery ticket. The surprise will be as much a gift as what you give.
  • Support a charity – at this time of year and in this economy, charities need all the support they can get. A few hours or a few pounds spent sorting out unwanted clothes from your wardrobe, or offering pet-food to an animal shelter or wildlife hospital could be a real act of kindness that has a massive impact.

Whatever you choose to do, one act of kindness can go a long way.

So as soon as you start noticing yourself getting stressed or tense with festive worries or complaints, just pause for a second and give yourself the gift of kindness by offering it to someone else!

1 Act of Kindness = Happiness to you, Joy to the Receiver, AND reduced Festive stress-levels!

Add your ideas for small acts of kindness to the comments below to help inspire other readers, and please let us know how an act of kindness has helped transform a situation for you too!