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It seems that Christmas is a bit like marmite; you either love it or hate it!

This time of year can be extremely emotive. For many, it presents a roller coaster of emotions; for some, it brings joy and excitement and for others a source of great stress. Managing expectations, yours and those of others, is key to having a happy stress free Christmas.

For some Christmas can evoke strong feelings of loneliness. 

Whilst it's important to acknowledge feelings and emotions, it's important to avoid wallowing. Instead, this is a great time to review your life. On the one hand, look for the positives from this year, and then and look at changes that you can implement to make the coming year much better.

What can you change in you that will make a difference to your perspective? Set positive intentions for each quarter of the new year, refrain from getting caught up in the how - ie how those things will become a reality, this can become the obstacle to achieving your goals/outcome. Taking some positive action will automatically lift your spirits.

If a loved one has died, there is no doubt that Christmas is a challenge. It's important not to ignore how you feel, especially if the bereavement is fairly recent. Putting yourself under more pressure to create an uplifting experience can do just the opposite. Changing Christmas traditions can help, whilst still keeping the memory of whoever has died alive by sharing stories, photo albums, videos, and memories.

Christmas can be challenging and awkward if there are family tensions - it's best to manage these situations ahead of time, keep people apart that may escalate into unpleasant fallouts. Take the pressure off and allow older children/ to make the right choices for them in terms of where they spend Christmas. Remember it's only two days and that people's behaviour is a reflection of some deep-seated emotional turmoil. It helps put things in perspective. Alcohol can also strip people of any inhibitions.

If you love to have big gatherings, great but rather than stressing over everything that you have to do, ask for help. Ask guests and family members to participate by bringing something to the table and share costs. Financial pressures create angst and spoil family gatherings. Set a budget, it helps everyone, and agree on a maximum spend. If you have no idea what to buy for someone, ask, it's a lot better than getting them a present they won't appreciate.

I hate the commerciality of Christmas. It starts at the beginning of September and by December reaches a crescendo, where many are fed up with it and it hasn't even happened yet. We once attended a Thanksgiving dinner in Maryland, US, and it was such an amazing day. No presents, just food, and wine on the table, and a group of people around the table that cared about one another, sharing stories, laughter and creating new memories.

Whatever your view on the Christmas season, remember you have choices. 

And it is just two days out of 365!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and wishes for a happy and healthy 2019.

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Stop judging yourself
by what happens to your in life, so you're not basing your confidence on outside events.
Forgive yourself
and others for past mistakes. Harbouring old grudges takes up a lot of time and energy which you could be using in more productive ways.
Learn to think differently
When you fall into self-criticism, notice them and change them to positive thoughts.
Set goals/outcomes
on the basis of what you can realistically achieve, and then work step-by-step to develop your potential. Acknowledge small achievements which take you closer to your end outcome.
Emphasise your strengths
Focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot.
self-confidence and self-esteem are learnt behaviour, and with practice can be built.