Mindful Mandy says “Have yourself a very merry mindful Christmas!”
What does Christmas mean for you? Do you get caught up in the nostalgia, the madness, the hype….Christmas songs on your play list, decorate your home like Santa’s grotto, go overboard on the Christmas presents and spending over the festive period?
Christmas has always been portrayed as a happy, joyful time, where we spend the day with family and loved ones, but it’s not always easy. If your budget is tight, then the weeks leading up to Christmas Day can be very worrying too. Thinking negative thoughts only leads to more negative thinking, as we struggle to disconnect and move on.
Fast forward to Boxing Day….family fights occur (as we are not used to spending so much time together!), financial worries kick in, over indulgence of food and booze….you’ve fallen out with everyone but the cat….!
So – how can we make the most of this time of year?
Mindfulness helps you to be in the present moment and to make more conscious decisions. It helps you to become aware of negative thoughts and emotions…to sit with them and to let them pass in a gentle way. Mindfulness helps to calm you and to give you a greater sense of control over your thoughts and emotions – and this is particularly useful at a highly charged emotional time such as Christmas!
5 Mindfulness Steps to cope with Christmas
- Be mindful in conversations with family – communicating mindfully means you really look the person you are talking to in the eyes, you listen attentively and PAY ATTENTION to what they are saying! We all know how good we feel when we feel someone is really listening to us – we feel valued and respected. This means NO looking at your phone or the TV! You will be surprised at the warm feeling of re-connecting with your loved ones.
- Go for a mindful walk – get outside, enjoy the fresh air, walk off the mince pies and mulled wine….enjoy the beauty of nature. Walking is a great stress reliever and mood booster. You can reconnect with the present moment, burn off some calories and re-energise yourself. Pay close attention to all of the sounds, the smells and what you see….notice the colours of the sky, your surroundings, the temperature of the air against your skin, your feet on the ground. This is what it means to be truly ‘present’.
- Practise gratitude. Take some time during your Christmas break to remind yourself of all the good things in your life – really focus on the things and people you feel grateful for in your life right now in the present moment and how good this makes you feel. Practising gratitude helps you to let go of frustrations, repetitive negative thoughts and feelings about the negative areas of your life. You produce endorphins and develop a positive mindset.
- Take some time to meditate – sit quietly, on your own and engage all of your senses. Become aware of your thoughts, feelings and emotions, allow them to just ‘be in your awareness’. Next bring your attention to your breath in your body…the breath is a calming anchor to ground you to the present moment. Now expand your awareness to include the whole of your body, thoughts, feelings, emotions, your posture and facial expression…get a sense of the ‘whole’ of you in that moment. Try to practise this for a minimum of ten minutes. Regular meditation has both physical and emotional benefits for your health and wellbeing.
- Eat mindfully – when you eat mindfully you give your full focus to the food you are eating…engaging all your senses – noticing the colours, textures and smells of your food. You notice when you are full and satisfied and can enjoy eating just the right amount of food without over-loading your stomach. This is a great way to enjoy the food you like but with a sense of focused control!