As December approaches, what are your thoughts? Are you someone who loves Christmas and can’t wait for it to arrive? Or are you the opposite and dread the season entirely?
We’ve put together 8 infinite tips to help you embrace this time of year so you can feel moments of festive magic again.
Tip 1 Sunrise and Sunset
The next 6 weeks are the shortest days of the year which means we are more likely to be awake to see the sun rise. Why not pause for a few moments to be aware of the colours of the sky at dawn? Trying not to pass judgement on the weather, just be aware of the colours and how they change.
If you miss the dawn, then how about sunset? Even on a cloudy, wet day when you can’t see the sun, the light still slowly fades. Why not observe it for a short time this evening and see if there is anything that surprises you when you take the time to really see it.
Tip 2 Christmas Card Writing
Find a pen you enjoy using and try to write your cards slowly as you concentrate on the formation of each letter. Use this writing time to really connect with the person you are writing it for. Picture them sitting in front of you and take a moment to think of what that person means to you. It might only be a few words like, ‘thank you for our friendship’, or ‘I wish you good health’ or even just ‘I wish you a happy Christmas’ and then think of that person and what a happy Christmas would look like for them.
If every person receiving a card from you is also receiving your undivided attention while you write the card for them, you are sending them a precious gift.
Tip 3 Coffee Meditation
How many of us drink our coffee on the go, without stopping what we are doing? Often our mind continues to be as busy as before we made the coffee. This kind of coffee break will give us a shot of caffeine to chemically stimulate our bodies to keep going for a bit longer but nothing more.
Mindful coffee drinking, or coffee meditation is different. It helps to calm the chatter of the mind, just for a few moments. You might be surprised at how refreshing it can be. The great thing about the coffee meditation is that it can be done any time, any place and nobody need know what you are doing. It is a way to make a 5 minute break far more effective and useful. It can be done with any drink, hot or cold. Here’s how ….
Firstly, make your coffee. To do this practice fully, make the coffee slowly and mindfully, being aware of every part of the process and all the sights and smells of coffee that go with it.
Then, take a slow, small sip of coffee. Resist the temptation to gulp it down without tasting it. Let the coffee rest in your mouth. Notice where the coffee sits and what it tastes like. Notice the temperature and where you feel that sensation most. Do you feel temperature and taste in the same part of your mouth? Can you still smell the coffee?
After a few moments, swallow the coffee. Notice where you feel the sensations of swallowing. What temperature is the coffee? Once you have swallowed it, is there still a taste?
Repeat this process with another sip of your drink. Continue for 5 minutes or so, or until you have finished your drink.
How do you feel now? Is it different from normal?
Tip 4 Spend time with people or pets that you love
Christmas can sometimes be a busy and overwhelming time, but at the end of the day, it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend time with people we care about.
Make a conscious effort to let go of preparing and organising and just ‘be’ with your friends, family and pets on Christmas Eve.
You could listen to music, eat food together, talk about your favourite times of the past year or what you’re grateful for, play a board game, watch a feel good Christmas movie or do a fun Christmas activity.
Take a moment to feel gratitude for these people around you.
Tip 5 Be Kind to Yourself
Chances are, we are not all going to handle the Christmas season perfectly. We may forget things, even seemingly important things. We may feel as if we are completely disorganised and out of control. Or we may completely ‘lose it’ and have a major falling out with someone in our family.
Often in these circumstances we are our own harshest critics. We beat ourselves up over what we could have done differently and our minds carry us away with thoughts about why things have turned out like this. We can lead ourselves into a downwards cycle of negative thoughts.
Research is showing that being kinder to ourselves has powerful effects on how we cope with life’s stresses. By accepting that we will make mistakes and forgiving ourselves when we do, without judging ourselves, we can feel soothed and calmed.
Tip 6 Wrapping Presents
Do you love wrapping the presents or do you find it tedious? Try this.
Think of present wrapping and really absorb the colour of the paper. Be aware of the sound of the scissors as they cut through the paper. Feel the texture of the paper – really focus on whether it is smooth or rough, soft or stiff, warm or cool. Take a moment to focus on what is inside the present, and who you are wrapping it for.
Doing a task mindfully means bringing your full awareness to the task and doing it to the best of your ability. Wrapping doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Why not add a tiny sprig of green from the garden to make the present extra special. Even on basic brown paper, it will add a pop of colour!
Tip 7 Mindfulness First Aid
For those times when you feel your stress levels rising. Perhaps you are in a traffic jam, yet another queue, or just had it ‘up to here’ with family…catch yourself before you lose your cool and try the 3 stage breathing space:
Stage 1: take a few moments to be aware of what’s happening right now. Become still, notice any sensations, either pleasant or unpleasant. Just be aware, without trying to change anything.
Stage 2: bring awareness to your breathing. Let the breath breathe itself without trying to change it in any way. Follow the in-breath all the way in, then the out-breath all the way out. Feel the sensations of the breath at the tip of your nose, as it enters and leaves your body.
Stage 3: gently broaden and expand your awareness to include the whole body. Feel the breath in the whole of your body as if the whole body is breathing. Notice how you feel right now. Carry this awareness with you to the next part of your day.
Tip 8 Play Christmas songs each morning
A simple way to feel happy and get into a festive frame of mind and be sure to sing along!
Take a deep breath and enjoy Christmas to its fullest potential. And know that everything will have a natural way of working itself out in the New Year, no matter how much you worry about it.
So let it all go, be in the moment and have a Merry Christmas!
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