Mindfulness and gratitude during the festive season

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! 

It’s true – Christmas is a such a joyous holiday. Whether you celebrate the religious side or not, the whole idea of family getting together and gift exchanging is a wonderful notion.

And yet, the last few weeks have been so filled with choosing gifts and extended shopping and eating food and going to parties and meeting people and all these other obligations – that many of us are probably by now, 5 days before the event – feeling a little overwhelmed by this holiday.

Here’s a few simple tips to stop yourself feeling like you’ve been taken over by Christmas:

  • Avoid guilt-tripping yourself

This is a two-fold point. First, there is often a lot of pressure in families, friendship groups, at work, to exchange gifts, bake cookies, send cards. By all means engage in this, because giving is something beautiful that most of us don’t do enough the rest of the year. But if you can’t afford to splash out on super-pricey presents, or run out of time to send a card to absolutely everyone in your address book, it’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Focus on the people who matter the most to you, as a priority. Give what you can, but don’t give away all your energy. You’ll need it on Christmas Day!

Second, don’t make yourself feel guilty about the food you eat this Christmas. There is nothing worse than finishing a mince pie or a chocolate praline or a gingerbread man, or whatever your indulgent Christmas food of choice is, and feeling bad about it. It’s the holidays – you should be feeling good! And sure, you might put on a couple of pounds and you might indulge a little more than usual over the December weeks, but that’s OK because it’s an exception.

  • Get outside and move about

Following on from the previous point, while Christmas is a time of indulgence in both food and drink, this can often lead to you feeling lethargic and exhausted both physically and mentally. It might be cold outside, but pop on your gloves, hat and scarf and get outside. Try it alone for a quick moment of peace, or with a relative or family member for someone to chat to. If you factor a little more walking into your days in this close build-up to Christmas, your body will thank you for it. A Christmas Day walk, soon after all that good food, is a great way to digest and wake yourself up a little, and will leave you all feeling a little more perked up.

  • Focus on the positive relationships in your life

You might not have a huge extended family who all come to celebrate together. You might not be spending Christmas with a significant other. You might have a lot of family dramas that have happened over the course of the year. You might not bother with a big meal, you might be at home, you might go away for the night, you might have 40 gifts under the tree, you might have none at all.

There are so many ways to celebrate Christmas. Whatever your way is, remember the blessing of this holiday is that it allows you to enjoy the wonderful relationships you have in your life, and spend a little break this winter cultivating them. However you choose to spend your few days off, remember to cherish the person or people you spend them with. No matter how much they annoy you, or how many differences you have, if you are fortunate enough to spend your holidays with loved ones, enjoy that and be grateful for it. 

  • Take 5 minutes to reflect

Finally, while enjoying all those people around is incredibly important, so too is your own mental well-being. So, if you do find yourself feeling stressed out over the next few days with all there is to do, with relatives arriving or planning what to cook, remember it is OK to take a minute or 5 to go somewhere peaceful and reflect by yourself. Even if the only quiet, place in your house is the toilet, go there, play yourself a favourite song on your phone, or sing a bit to yourself in the mirror, or just close your eyes and listen to your breathing. Do something that allows you to come back to the festivities feeling refreshed.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas,

Helen 

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