It can seem like a cliche to say that the holidays can feel like a stressful time. It is not always a time filled with joy, laughter and merriment. Rather than the picture perfect image that you (and social media) build up to be the dream; the harmonious family gatherings and children gleefully joining in with festive activities planned, we might find ourselves feeling frustrated at relatives, stressed about finances and dismayed at our under appreciated dinner.
Well, instead of letting the images of the perfect Christmas bombarded at you in films and social media, why not let the festive period be a time for connection with family, friends and YOURSELF. Appreciate the things that bring you true peace, joy and laughter, and find humour in the moments that clearly aren’t or don't!
Even when things seemingly fall apart, there’s often more to see. Letting go of hard-and-fast expectations opens you up to more opportunities for connection and joy. Whether you regularly practice meditation, mindfulness or yoga, or not, the holidays are a perfect time to start.
HERE IS AN
8 STEP MINDFULNESS SEQUENCE
TO HELP YOU STAY CALM THIS FESTIVE PERIOD
Take 10 minutes in the day, be it first thing in the morning, or stop when you are feeling overwhelmed and simply breathe.
Start by settling your mind and body by following a relaxed breathing pattern. Mindfulness practice is an opportunity to build an ability to observe without our normal reactive spirals. For a few moments, we take a break from escalating our holiday stress. ] Once settled follow the steps below....
1. BOX BREATHING
Find a quiet spot indoors or outside, and turn off your devices. Focus on your breath, relax. Take a deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and breathe out for 4 seconds, pause for 4 seconds and repeat. This is called box breathing. The rhythmic, relaxed breathing pattern holds your focus.
2. CHECK IN
Notice whatever is going on for you right now, and then come back to the breath Whether you feel stressed, relaxed, or anything else, for a moment, let it all be. Without judgment or expectation, just notice it all, and come back to the next breath.
3. VISUALISE THE HOLIDAYS
Take a moment to notice what comes to mind when you picture the holiday season. How does your body feel? Is it tight, or restless, or even nauseated, or exhausted? Notice that, and let it be, and then come back to the breath.
4. LABEL EMOTIONS
What emotions arise? Maybe there is some mix of excitement and joy and dread and tiredness. Where do your thoughts go? Perhaps there’s a conflicting swirl of pictures of what might be, stress over what seems possible, or ruminative planning over parties, presents and travel.
5. RELAX INTO THE BREATH.
Right now, there’s nothing to do, no one to be, nowhere to go. In this moment, sitting, this is all there is. There’s time for acting or thinking later. Right now, take care of anything emergent, but otherwise let go of fixing and moving, and relax back in to your breath. 6. SHIFT YOUR ATTENTION TO SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT.
Now take a few moments to focus on your friends and family. Picture them, and wish them well, wherever they are, peace, or health, or safe travels.
7. NOW FOCUS ON YOURSELF.
This is a time of stress, perhaps. Wish yourself whatever you did for your family ie. ease, or peace, or happiness. Take a moment to be grateful for whatever comes to mind.
8. PRACTICE LETTING GO.
That picture of the fancy meal, or that snub, or a storm derailing your plan—they’re all just thoughts. Label it all, simply note it but don’t wrestle with it, and don’t engage with it. Then come back to... Breathing in, and breathing out.
MY FINAL EASY WIN SUGGESTIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS;
Allow the holidays to happen.
Take care to do whatever keeps you grounded, like sleep and exercise or walking the dog.
Treat yourself to some self care such as a massage
Enjoy it; plan what needs planning, and let go of the rest. Focus instead on whatever you value and find most sustaining at this time of year.
AND, DON'T FORGET THAT BST GIFT CARDS ARE AVAILABLE AND MAKE THE PERFECT LAST MINUTE GIFT THAT WILL PUT YOU IN THE GOOD BOOKS FOREVER MORE !