Tag Archives: survival guide

Winter Survival Guide (43) ~ Create a ‘Reverse Advent Calendar’.

What is a reverse advent calendar?” I hear you ask 🙂

Traditionally when we think about ‘Advent’ we are referring to a season observed by many Christians that is symbolic of the expectancy of Christ’s first Coming into the world, and the preparation and celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ at Christmas, and the return of Jesus at His Second Coming, which we still expectantly await.

Advent calendars fill the shops, and most people think of them as a kind of a ‘countdown’ to Christmas. They pop open little cardboard flaps on a cardboard advent calendar, and then pop a little festive shaped chocolate into their mouths, and so it goes. Advent calendars have over the past few years become much more elaborate though with people having the option of spending a small fortune on high end advent calendars that contain everything from chocolates, teas, beauty products and the like.

A ‘reverse advent calendar’ turns the commercialised idea of an advent calendar on its head. Jesus came in meekness and humility and love, and He came to serve other people and to give. We use advent calendars as a way of ‘treating ourselves’. To reverse this would be to give to other people.

One way in which to do this is as you ‘count down’ to Christmas, each day, or for whatever time frame suits you and is most convenient, collect an item that you can give to someone who is in need and without the blessings of food and warmth that you and I enjoy and often take for granted.

For example, you could collect items for a food bank, a soup kitchen or a homeless charity, and once you have collected them all, you have a collection of things that you can give away.

Perhaps this is something that you could do with friends or family, to encourage a community spirit and to help each other think of other people who are in need this season. And if you feel financial pressures yourself, just think that buying a tin of soup is probably cheaper than buying a box of Christmas crackers or novelty toys, and will go a lot further in making a difference. You could even pick up an extra item when you do your own shopping and you will hardly notice the ‘dent’ in your purse or wallet if you do.

If you are in the position to do so, you and your friends and family could collect some change each day and at the end of the time you could contribute that money to a worthwhile cause or charity.

Is this something that sounds like a good idea to you, and would you try it out with your friends and family or by yourself? Maybe it is something you could introduce into your workplace and see how many other people you can get on board. A little goes a long way, and it will make  difference to someone this year if we consider ‘reversing’ our advent calendars to celebrate what should be a season of giving rather than getting. Be blessed. x

food chef kitchen soup
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A Mental Health Winter Survival Guide – Quick Tips for those tough days (8).

Positive Distractions: Create a self-care ‘toolkit’ or list of your favourite things that you can go to that will serve as positive and healthy distractions when your mind is not in a good place.

Some ideas below:

  • Something tactile, soft and comforting, like a cosy blanket, a soft toy, etc.
  • A colouring book, pens and pencils.
  • Arts and crafts materials such as paper, card, stickers, pens.
  • Beautiful pictures or postcards of calming scenes such as nature scenery, animals, or photos of friends and loved ones that don’t ‘trigger’ you but only bring about positive and helpful emotions.
  • Some mood lifting songs.
  • A journal where you can write out and express your thoughts.
  • A book of puzzles or mind teaser computer games such as cards or word games (avoid anything with too much noise, visual stimuli or emotional content).
  • A favourite or sentimental object that makes you feel happy.
  • A stress ball, children’s play dough, slime or putty, that feels relaxing when you hold it.
  • A book of beautiful pictures.
  • A bar of your favourite chocolate, dark chocolate is good for you (in moderation like everything of course) so if you like that maybe you can choose a bar of dark chocolate.
  • Some calming scents, such as a fragrant wax lavender candle, something that gives of a calming aroma without you having to light it, some essential oils which you can also get in the form of a room spray, lightly scented hand cream, etc.
  • Herbal teas.
  • A book to ‘doodle’ and draw in.
  • Cosy socks / slippers.
  • A cosy cardigan or jumper.
  • Stencils to create patterns.
  • A favourite book that has a positive message.
  • A DVD of your favourite film – preferably something uplifting or light-hearted like a comedy.
  • Audiobooks (that will not be ‘triggering’ for you).
  • Encouraging, inspiring and uplifting podcasts, Ted Talks, etc.
  • Anything else that you know will help, calm and soothe you in those difficult moments.
multi colored pen
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A Mental Health Winter Survival Guide – Quick Tips for those tough days (3).

As much as possible, try to stick to a routine, or have a routine or plan written down to fall back upon. This will help you if things get mentally foggy, confusing or overwhelming for you. Ask for help if you need to create a plan or routine and take small steps to stay well.

man wearing black crew neck shirt and black jeans
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