It’s hard to have missed the plethora of posts already published passing on tips for a calmer, less stressful Christmas. Still, having particularly enjoyed this one from Catie at Diary of an Imperfect Mum, this one from Jen at Tripping Through Treacle and this one from Hand In Hand Parenting, I decided that, though fairly late to the party, there was still room for some Mindfulness based advice to help ‘one and all’ enjoy the next few days.
So here are 12 (it’s a very Christmassy number after all!) suggestions for mindful living at this time of year:
- ‘Rest’ and ‘play’ in every day. With only so many hours in the day and with many of us juggling lots anyway, adding something else like Christmas can squeeze out time for ‘play’ – our hobbies, socialising and ‘downtime’ in general – in the weeks leading up to the big day. Then when it gets REALLY busy we squeeze the ‘rest’ element from our lives until life has become very narrow indeed. This can mean that, if we’re not careful, when we get to 25th December we have fallen down the “exhaustion funnel” and it can be difficult to fully enjoy the big day itself. In order to combat this make sure you have regular moments of ‘rest’ and ‘play’.
- Hone your empathy skills. Kids obviously LOVE this time of year but it can also be overwhelming too. It is easy to lose sight of what the little ones may be feeling when we’re getting swept up in the excitement of the season ourselves. It is also worth bearing in mind that this is the time of year when parents are out more on work ‘dos’ and the like so this can leave the child feeling a little less connected with Mum or Dad than usual. Let’s try to ensure there is still lots of ‘normal’ family time during the festive season – even if it’s just cuddles on the sofa with the telly on or some books.
- Feeling irritable? Take a breathing space – here is my go-to audio to help me feel more grounded and reconnect with my breath.
- Remember the word ‘present’ has more than one meaning. Yes Christmas is a time for giving gifts to the special people in your life, but it is also a time for being with the special people in your life. Ruby Wax commented that giving someone your attention is the best thing you can do. Read more here.
- With that in mind…..do a ‘digital detox’. Stay away from your devices for a few hours, the whole day, the whole festive period… you choose. Just take a step back, get on the floor and play with some of the new toys that the kids have got from Father Christmas. Read more about digital detoxing here.
- Prioritise what is important to your family, not what you or other people think should be important to you. Put your little family unit first. If that means eating a simple, no-fuss meal and keeping the day very quiet than so be it. Let other people have the big get togethers
and everything that comes with them,you do as you please. It’s not often we get to after all.
- ‘Watch’ your thoughts and ‘catch’ the unhelpful ones that may lead you to a dead-end or on a downward spiral. Some people use imagery to help monitor their thoughts. Viewing your thoughts as buses you can choose to board (or not) or as clouds (big and dark or light and fluffy depending on what they represent) can help us monitor any negative thought pattern that may be taking hold of us and choose whether to stay with these or not.
- The park isn’t just for the rest of the year, it is for Christmas too. Just because it’s Christmas Day doesn’t mean the whole family won’t benefit from an outing to the park. A chance to blow the cobwebs away and to run off some energy. Getting outdoors even for just 10 minutes per day has been proven to be good for well-being. Just wrap up well!
- Put self-care high up on your ‘to do’ list.
Remember the advice given out on a plane about putting on your own gas mask first before taking care of others? Well apply this to life as well. If we don’t prioritise our own well-being, we can’t expect to be on top form for looking after our family either. Remember to look after yourself.
- Feel gratitude. If at all possible find the little things in life to be appreciative of. I try and write 3 things down at the end of the day that I am grateful for – the more specific and supposedly ‘mundane’, the better.
- Take some ‘mindful mouthfuls’. Mmmm easier said than done…. Still try your best to really savour the lovely things you are eating and drinking at this time of year – my previous post about mindful eating is here. It may help you feel more satisfied and eat less too! Challenge your children to REALLY appreciate their last few advent calendar chocolates and all the goodies on Christmas Day. The chocolate meditation on the Frantic World website leads you through this. You basically use all your senses to enjoy the food and don’t gobble it up straight away!
- And finally, notice the delight on children’s faces when they are engrossed in the magic of Christmas AND try to emulate it. The world is so much more exciting to children. Try and recapture this child-like wonder and curiosity in your surroundings during the festive period and see how refreshing this can be.
I was inspired to write a list of 12 items by the ’12 Days of Parenting collaboration’. Click below to find out more.
That just leaves me to wish everyone a very merry AND mindful Christmas.