Stay Calm for Christmas with Jen Wood
The festive season can be fun, but it can also be stressful. Work may be intense as everything needs to be finished by the end of the year, and there may be demanding clients to entertain, not to mention demanding families.
Also, when we get together with our family of origin, our habitual patterns can come up and all of a sudden we can feel like a hormonal teenager again. Time off can be a relief for some, for others it’s a break from normal routine which can be difficult. For some, Christmas can be a painful reminder of loss and absent loved ones.
Here are some suggestions for having a more mindful – and calm – Christmas.
Having a go-to breathing practice that you can use to activate your ‘relaxation response’ is one of the most helpful gifts you can give yourself. One minute a day is enough to start building up your inner resilience and compassion.
Set an intention for how you want to feel, instead of how you don’t
When you wake up, why not decide how you would like to feel. This can be a great way to programme the mind to support you. Energy flows where attention goes, so before our work night out or family gathering, if we are thinking of the joy of connection rather than dreading the effort of it all, it can dramatically influence our experience. Take a minute to check in before any social event, and think about how meaningful these people are to you. You might even feel like sharing that with them, which can be the greatest gift you can offer someone.
Make a self-care plan
Spending some time thinking about how you can recharge your self-care battery can be very helpful. Remember, self-care is not selfish, it’s nourishing and often essential. The airlines ask you to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others for a very good reason.
We often hear ‘the body doesn’t lie’ and it’s true! Take some time to check in with your body and see what information you get. What does your body need? It might need to move, stretch or rest. What emotions, thoughts or physical sensations do you notice?
This is helpful when we are busy and eating and drinking more than usual. Rather than another glass of wine, could you have a pause and possibly a glass of water to pace yourself? Your body may thank you in the morning.
Set a mindful reminder on your phone
We can’t get away from our phones so we might as well use them to help us. Experiment with setting an hourly alarm on your phone or use a mindfulness timer app on your smartphone to remind yourself to check in with your body and your Soothing Rhythm Breathing. Try Mindfulness Bell https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/mindfulness-bell/id380816407
Practice mindful activities
As well as eating and drinking mindfully when you can, try choosing one activity per day to do mindfully. It could be having a mindful shower, brushing your teeth, cooking a meal or even doing the ironing. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s how you do it that will make all the difference. See how your perspective changes when you do things with more awareness. Use all your senses.
Get outside every day
At this time of year we don’t get enough bright sunlight, and this can impact our levels of vitamin D. It can help to get outside when it’s bright. Going for walks, visiting a country park, walking the dog or forest bathing. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!
At the end of the day, write down 3 things that you are grateful for. They could be experiences, people, treats for yourself or simple yet significant things like good health. This tunes our brains in to notice more good things and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Warm wishes for a mindful and compassionate festive season,