Are you stressed yet?


This year is flying by with so many people running, doing one task after another. They are juggling family, work, social times and health care. Yes, we have been doing the same at Developing Lives with a very busy year. We know what it is like!! Do you feel you are on the home run for 2017, or still on the uphill climb, waiting for your relief to come?

For many, life is like the tides with ebbs and flows of good and difficult times. So, how we manage it will determine whether we cope well or not. It seems that as soon as we ‘steady the ship’ and take time out for a coffee and maybe take a stroll around the shops, we are faced with the reality of Christmas converging onto our lives again!!! Whether you love or avoid Christmas season, this time of year can become quite stressful, not only in the busyness, but also with the expectations and financial concerns. Overwhelming, maybe?

So, take some time out now, stretch a moment out with a cuppa and your favourite biscuit (even try our new Lavender Shortbread recipe) and pick up some ideas of how to manage this season well.

Here are some tips to help manage stressful times like Christmas:

  • Maintaining a balanced life style is so important: between work and play, healthy eating and partying, rest and busyness, lavish or simple living. Use a wall planner to lock in your commitments, colour coding the various activities in relation to stress levels. Then adjust as you need.
  • Make sure you have at least 7 – 8 hours sleep. When we get busy, we often cut back on rest time to make time for the increase in activity, especially for festive partying. If you suffer from busy brains and can’t get the quality sleep you need, or if you need power naps to survive well, we can show you how. Give us a call.
  • Healthy eating with wholesome foods. Don’t forget to eat the 2 pieces of fruit and 3 vegetables per day. Make sure you take time out for the 3 meals. Yes, starting with breakfast and including the morning and afternoon coffee/tea breaks, even if you don’t drink beverages. These breaks not only replenish the body, but allow you to relax the body muscles, take some deep breaths, and ‘turn the page’ in your mind. Switching gears in this way can lower the adrenaline levels and help you manage your stress levels regularly through you day.
  • Regular exercise can be termed, not only as healthy, but also a way of self-medicating. Exercise makes us fit physically and emotionally. It helps to keep our weight down and is energising while making us feel happy. It stimulates our ‘happy juices,’ including serotonin, which makes up smile and relieves the feeling of stress. To exercise for 20mins each day, possible in your lunch hour or immediately after work, can help alleviate those rising stress levels.
  • Manage your finances. Make sure you are aware of your budget and ensure your expenses meet these requirements. I am a great believer in making lists of presents to be bought, and of food and miscellaneous expenses, all of which needs to match the budget. If a purchase extends the budget, then you either avoid this purchase or adjust the budget accordingly. Don’t become indulgent just because it is the season. That will not work and will create unwanted stress.

Overall, find security within these boundaries so you have more ability to enjoy the build up to the festive season.

MOTHERS DAY – Celebrating Parents

Many of us have heard it said before: our children are our future; it takes a village to bring up a child; strong willed children become adults who can change the world.  These moments of thought all reflect the huge responsibility parents have in raising their children in a world of expectations. And yet, there are so many conflicting theories of what style of parenting is best for our children.  Parenting: a major role to undertake and we need to be intentional in being the parent, day by day.  That is why I have a passion to share my knowledge and experience as a mother and grandmother, as one who made it my job to equip myself and my husband with the best and proven methods of parenting.  This, with my professional education, has been fruitful in many people’s lives, working with parents of children of all ages. 

The number one strategy, I believe, is to care for yourself.  It doesn’t matter what fancy and new strategy you want to try out, implementing it will be a battle if you are tired and rundown, leading you to become emotional and overwhelmed.  We are not at our best when we are tired.  When possible, keep to regular 8 hour sleep patterns as this will ensure quality of sleep.  I can hear you saying how difficult this is to achieve and I understand.  Your sleep revolves around the children’s sleeping patterns, but you can aim for this as much as possible. 

I encourage parents to avoid becoming too busy.  Busyness can mean a lack of time and energy to deliberately invest into the lives of your children. Planning is a key element here – to avoid overloading yourself and your family with unnecessary activity and tight scheduling. 

There needs to be a balance maintained in the lives of parents and the participation in family relationships.  I often hear that stay at home parents lack, and pine after, adult company.  Child-free time is refreshing and can be taken as a couple or as individual time-out.  Some disagree with this suggestion, stating their children come first.  Consider that in taking time to rest, slow down or to seek adult pursuits is not a selfish endeavour, but an investment into yourself so you can best invest into the lives of the children.


Managing Emotionally at Christmas

sunbathing Santa Claus relaxing in bedstone on tropical sandy beach - Christmas concept

Some people can never get enough of the Christmas season. Others will take a deep breath as they look down the tunnel of time pressures, stress, and emotional challenges this season might bring. And some may choose to avoid it as much as possible. Whatever your situation and perceptions of Christmas, there is often a cocktail of emotions to manage.

We cannot assume everyone participating in the Christmas festivities are freely enjoying themselves. Often, they are battling with the loss of a loved one, and in some instances, the loss is unseen, for example the loss of an unborn baby. Others feel alone because they are living away from their family and cannot make it home for the family celebrations. Others may believe this will be their last Christmas due to a terminal health condition. And some feel they cannot afford the expense, and Christmas will, therefore, be a time of disappointment and embarrassment. So many things can cloud a person’s perceptions on what is, stereo-typically, meant to be a happy occasion.

The key to getting through a maze of emotions is to govern your thoughts by choosing what you think. It is important to enable yourself to manage the emotional challenges, while still being true to your situation. We also need to consider the need to be more sensitive to others who may be struggling? How do we do that?

Continue reading “Managing Emotionally at Christmas” »

Tinsel and Tunes – Christmas triggers for those with Autism


With the approach and count-down of Christmas well on the way, for many people this can mean that senses will be stretched to capacity.

For some with sensory difficulties, this time of year can be a very stressful one. Shopping centres start playing repetitive jingles with regular monotony.  If you like everything neat and orderly, then stars hanging down from the ceiling, draped across aisles and trees and tinsel covering corners and furnishings can also bring confusion.

And if shopping is difficult enough at other times, then the additional people in shopping centres and the excess of children, prams, trolleys, strollers and buggies can make moving in any direction, both difficult and slow.
For people who struggle with autism related sensory overloads, this time of the year can be extremely difficult.  With the additional stress of the demands of Christmas shoppers, nerves become frayed and people become less tolerant.

How to survive, especially through the Christmas season:

Planning and organisation are the keys.

One of the best times to go to the shopping centres is very first thing in the morning.  The next best time is at dinner time, just before the shops close.  If it is necessary to go in the middle of the day, then around times of natural eating can be slightly less congested inside a shop but obviously, more congested around the food courts and toilets.

The next essential consideration, is have a very specific plan of what you need to get when you are out.  If you are unsure, then two small outings can be easier to manage than one long session.  Plan what you need to get and from which stores.  This will avoid your need to walk from one end of the shopping centre to the other and then back again to find your car or transport home.

If you have small children, then have a large bag with emergency supplies.  Often a small child will want a drink or something to eat just as you are trying to finalise your purchase.  A favourite toy just might get you quietly out to a better place to meet their demands.  Avoid handing over your electronic device to a small child, as it can easily be thrown when they are upset.

If your child is scared of Santa Claus, don’t force them to go through the photo session and the long waits.  Take them beside the display and let them watch other people going through the process.  Sometimes children need to see the expectations before they are comfortable.  If you still have a little one who refuses to go through with the photo session despite sitting on your knee or in your arms, then go ahead with the other children and this year’s photo will be part of the memories of you and your child.  Alternatively, you can take a snap and either phot-shop it on, or cut and glue one on.

Remember, Christmas is a time for children, families and people to come together.  These ideals are worthwhile.  Learning about what triggers exist in your life and your family, and then planning ways and means to cope through these, is a real secret to a truly Happy Christmas.

 by Michele Aitchison



What we have in life is influenced by our attitude!

Joyce Meyers tells this story:

Joyce went into a coffee shop. While waiting for her coffee, she asked a woman how her day had been. The woman stated that, yet again, life had ‘thrown her under the bus.’ Joyce listened to all the things the woman had gone through, to which Joyce told the lady that life is about choices.

Joyce went on to explain that this woman could chose to stay ‘under the bus’ and be miserable, or she could get out from under the bus and “start driving that damned bus!!!” (as Joyce put it). In fact, Joyce suggested that, in driving the bus, instead of spending her days complaining about being under the bus, she would spend her days ‘picking up others who have also been thrown under that bus’ in life.

How many times do we chose to stay uncomfortably ‘under the bus’, complaining and hurting without tending to our wounds? We all need to find our way out, in order to heal so we can then be able to help others going through similar life experiences.

What about those of us who are driving the buses? Are we simply driving around, enjoying the scenery? What legacy in life do you create by doing this? Don’t get me wrong, I love a little R & R, but we are all in the business of helping others do life, whether we acknowledge this or not. No-one lives in a vacuum – we all have an effect on other people around us, either positive or negative.

It was reported some time ago, that a woman was literally and physically caught under a bus. She was injured and afraid. Amongst all the bystanders and those passing by, on foot or in cars, only one young man offered to help her. The rest either didn’t notice, were too busy, were too afraid to get involved or simply didn’t care. Some appeared to be more fascinated than empathic, taking photos with their phones! I hope we become as this one man was, and live each day having a positive influence to heal and encourage each other’s lives, ie. getting past our own self and investing into other people’s lives. The result? Blessings and a great level of satisfaction knowing we have enriched other people’s lives.

Let’s not get caught up in our own selves, becoming insular and self-serving. Great healing and blessings occur as we actually get into the business of helping others, despite our hurts.