Voice of Real Australia: Stress or kindness, your choice

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend.

Making the effort to reach out to others at Christmas can stop you ruminating on the negative. Photo: File

Making the effort to reach out to others at Christmas can stop you ruminating on the negative. Photo: File

My mum is a big believer in the idea that the best way to feel better about yourself is to do something - especially if that something is for someone else.

This could be particularly pertinent advice as the simultaneously merry and stressful time known as "Christmas" approaches.

There's the joy of seeing family members after a long time - especially for families spread across state borders.

There's the stress of your grandma/uncle/in-laws bringing up your weight/career/relationship again, or the knowledge that cousin Jim is going to have a couple too many Christmas beverages and get in a blue with the nearest available person.

This may, of course, be limited to my family, but I suspect not.

After a rollercoaster year, in which some people have had record business success while others, between drought, bushfire, flood and pandemic, have lost their homes, their jobs and loved ones, Christmas may feel especially fraught.

If you, like me, are not the greatest at holding your tongue, may I suggest taking my mum's advice, and thinking about what you can do, rather than what you might say when the inevitable tense conversations arise.

Does your grandma (who warns you not to have too much dessert lest you explode from your clothes) always host Christmas?

Offering to do the Christmas grocery run gives you the opportunity to duck that chat - and takes some pressure off her. You might find she's a little kinder when not panicked about how to feed the Christmas crowd.

Does beverage-loving cousin Jim need a hand fixing his car? Lending a hand could slow him down on the drinks, and induce a sense of gratitude for the family he has (rather than the desire to antagonise them).

Despite all your best efforts, people are still going to say hurtful things, do foolish things and behave in obnoxious ways at times.

But making the effort to reach out can stop you ruminating on the negative.

Plus, it might count in your favour when you behave less-than-perfectly.

Tis the season - for a bit of kindness.

In case you are interested in filtering all the latest down to just one late afternoon read, why not sign up for The Informer newsletter?

More stuff happening around Australia ...