5 WAYS TO A MINDFUL CHRISTMAS by Generation Mindful
What is it about Christmas that causes so much stress?
After all, Christmas is all about kindness, love, connection, family and friends. But the thing is, for many of you, there are expectations (or perceived expectations) to create a wonderful Christmas for your loved ones; making it the least wonderful time of the year, if not the most stressful, for you. In fact, some people rate Christmas as being more stressful than divorce or being burgled.
The festive season means something different to everyone and it is often linked to past (good or bad) experiences. We also often try to recreate good memories (often from childhood) or make good from some not so good memories.
1. Guard your mind from the perfect Christmas
The polished festive images you see on social media and on TV about how a “perfect” Christmas should look like can literally send you into a deep valley of discontent, resentment, and unhappiness. Your Christmas decorations do not have to be all manually crafted.
Your Christmas presents do not have to be all ready and perfectly wrapped 2 weeks before Christmas. Your Christmas meal does not have to be fully homemade, in fact it doesn’t even have to be at all. You do not have to send cards to your extended family. If you enjoy doing all those things, if it gives you pleasure, that’s fine. But if not, it is totally OK not to. Give yourself permission to stay out of the competition and do whatever works for you best.
2. Managing expectations (including yours)
The holiday season can make people feel out of control. We may feel at the mercy of our relatives and family traditions.
But you have a say. The key is to take some control over the holidays, instead of letting them control you.
What if everyone’s expectations, including your own, were shared ahead of Christmas? It will make the whole process more manageable.
Here’s how to do this:
Once you know who you will be spending Christmas with, whether you are hosting or not, ask everyone to play a game : ask everyone to write down 3 things that are the most important to them about the Christmas festivities. Write down your own 3 things too.
Ahead of time, make sure everyone is aware of what everyone else has written down.
Not only this will make things easier for the host, but it will also deepen the sense of connection amongst those who will be sharing the festivities. You’ll be amazed to notice how people will take this opportunity to be kind and more empathetic so that everyone can have a good time.
3. Accept and ask for help
If you are hosting, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it all by yourself. If a relative or a friend offers to help, accept and give them something to do, either before or on the day. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help and delegate. It doesn’t matter whether you had done it all by yourself the previous years. Often, we assume someone else will reject our request for help but you’ll be surprised to find out most people say yes.
The secret to successfully delegating is to accept the job will not be perfectly done, or exactly as you would have done it yourself. And that’s ok.
4. Plan mindfully
Don’t try to memorise all the things you need to prepare. Use to-do lists. Like for effective goal planning, plan backwards: identify the outcome you want and write down all the steps you need to get it done. If you delegate some tasks beforehand, keep track of them.
Same goes for your budget. Be it with regards to food, decoration or buying presents. For many of us, it is tough to put a price limit because we want to show our affection towards our loved ones. But most of the time, we will end up over-spending while we could have planned ahead for a well-thought present for our loved ones.
Maybe your sister was looking for that special type of earrings?
While you plan, don’t forget to schedule in some time for yourself. A time where you can relax, indulge with your favourite self-care activities.
Remember Christmas is a time for kindness and compassion - but not only towards others, towards yourself too.
5. Mindful experiences
We are blessed with so many seasonal joys over the festive season: Christmas lights, special foods and drinks, and maybe even some snow.
Yet we may feel trapped in all the extra chores, shopping and busyness that we could forget enjoying the present moment.
How could you mindfully enjoy those experiences? Here are a few practical tips for you.
● Mulled wine - try asking yourself those questions the next time you sip a cup
Before your first sip:
What scents am I noticing?
What thoughts, if any, is this mindful experience bringing for me right now?
After your first sip:
How does my throat feel, drinking this warm drink?
What flavours do I notice?
Is it sweet?
What thoughts is this mindful experience bringing now?
● Mince pies - try asking yourself those questions the next time you are about to eat one
Before your first bite:
What scents am I noticing?
How does its texture look like? How does the texture feel like?
What colors do I see?
After your first bite, taking your time before swallowing it:
What flavours do I notice?
How does the texture feel like now?
What thoughts is this mindful experience bringing right now?
● Snow - try asking yourself those questions the next time it is snowing
Before getting outside:
How does the snow look like from where I am standing right now? (e.g.fluffy, white)
What thoughts, if any, is this mindful observation bringing right now?
Once you’re outside and you can touch the snow:
How does the snow look like?
How does the snow feel like? Does it have any particular scent?
What thoughts is this mindful experience bringing me now?
Life Coach & Mindfulness Teacher, Founder of Generation Mindful®
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