Keep your festive spirit high and your stress levels low this Christmas using these handy tools and top tips.
Let’s face it whilst Christmas can be great fun and a wonderful time of year it can also be super stressful and challenging. Here are a range of my favourite tips and tools together with a beautiful exercise which will help you to get the very best out of Christmas.
1. Spot the glimmers
Glimmers are the opposite to triggers. They are the moments in your day that make you feel happy, calm, content, peaceful, grateful, uplifted etc., They are tiny moments that uplift you and spark positive feeling. A smile, a hug, a kind word, laughter, a bird song, the crackle of a log fire these are all glimmers – micro moments that you can collect through the day like beads threaded on a necklace. The more you practice glimmer spotting the more you will see them. Glimmer spotting lifts your soul, enhances mental health and retrains your brain to seek out the good things in the world around you.
2. Dealing with triggering people
Christmas is a time where you often have to socialise with family members who for one reason or another trigger you. Instead of quietly fuming, having an argument, feeling reactive or even descending into mental chaos try one or al of the following:
- Redirect your energy to a powerful question – ‘what is this teaching me?’ By pondering this question you stay in your power and open up the doors to personal reflection and a growth mind-set.
- Practice the power of the pause and count to five or even ten seconds. Give yourself the space to consider, reflect and even intuitively feel what the best response is – even if that’s to remain silent and/or walk away.
- Use your breath to instantly calm and soothe yourself. Close your mouth, breath in for the count of 4/5/6, hold for the count of 4/5/6 and exhale for the count of 4/5/6. Repeat this cycle at least five times for an instant and powerful effect on your well being.
- Fake it with a smile! Did you know that fake smiling tricks the brain into believing its happy thus releasing its cheerful chemicals? Basically you can fake smile your way into telling your brain you’re happy.
3. It is what it is
Do you set unrealistically high expectations on yourself? Before you even begin this year’s festive celebrations spend some time considering what your expectations are and whether they need adjusting? Remember that ‘perfect’ doesn’t actually exist other than in heavily crafted and filtered social media posts or the glossy world of advertising.
The best gift you can give yourself this Christmas is to let go of picture perfect expectations and get real. Adopt the mantra, ‘it is what it is,’ and instead of trying to control and fight reality to fit the illusion in your mind embrace Christmas for how it is – warts and all. When we let go of things needing to be a certain way we open the door to peace. I also like the mantra, ‘I am doing my very best and that’s all I can do.’ If I say it to my children then surely I need to heed the same advice?
We live in a world where we all multi task way too much! This Christmas see if you can monotask. Turn off your phone, close your lap top and do one thing at a time with your full attention. Whether it’s watching the kids unwrap their presents, prepping food or listening to the conversation round the table take each moment as mindfully as you can and be fully present in moment. Christmas won’t pass by in a busy blur and it will feel richer and more rewarding as a result.
5. Invite in the fun
What makes you really happy? Whether it’s chatting to a particular friend, sitting in PJ’s watching a movie, a windy stomp or a good book – do the things that make you feel good. In our serious world it is easy to forget to play. Christmas invites us to have fun – what can you do that is playful and fun? We love a kitchen dance – we put on the hits from our teens and we have a boogie. We also have games we enjoy playing like wink murder, hide and seek and sardines. Google them – they are great fun.
Acts of kindness and giving are also good for the soul – popping in on a lonely neighbour, babysitting for a relative or doing some chores to help out a busy friend, even taking the time to call those you know are alone or grieving as well as donating your time to a local charity. Anything you can do from the heart counts.
6. A beautiful exercise to replenish and energise your soul
It’s easy for tensions and frustrations to rise steadily and surely over Christmas. Instead of letting emotions and stress build up pay attention to how you’re feeling. As soon as you realise you need to reset go and find somewhere where you can be alone and undisturbed for a few minutes then try this:
- You can stand up or sit down for this exercise. You choose
- Close your eyes and relax your shoulders, soften your tongue, jaw, face, neck, shoulders and body
- Feel your support underneath your feet (you can go outside and connect to the earth if that helps)
- Close your mouth and breathe gently through your nose, noticing the rise and fall of your chest, the flow of air in and out of your body
- Focus on the word, peace. You can hold the word in your thoughts or if it’s easier repeat the word in your mind or say it out loud, maybe peace has an image you associate with it like a dove or golden rays of light. As you focus on the peace imagine that the energy of this word is flowing through every fibre and cell in your body. The more you focus on the word ‘peace’ the brighter your mind, body and spirit become until your whole body is vibrating with the energy of peace.
This exercise need only take two or three minutes (longer if you enjoy it), repeat it as often as necessary. You can also swap peace out for other words like calm, energy or joy etc., If you believe in a higher power you can also ask the heavenly forces to join you. I like to imagine the angles wings softly encircling me with unconditional love.
7. Do what works for you
Christmas isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year, it can be the worst time of the year. If you’re alone this Christmas, whether that is because you have lost a dear one or because that’s just how life is remember that actually you don’t have to celebrate if you don’t want to. It’s okay to just have a normal day. Alternatively you might like to treat yourself and buy in some food and nibbles that you really enjoy. Nature is solace for the soul so a walk in the woods or the park will have profound benefits. Focus on self-care and pleasing yourself. Do not allow other people to tell you how you have to be at Christmas – don’t let them drag you to their house so you aren’t on your own if you would rather be alone. Do what works for you. It’s also worth noting that if you have a relative struggling with grief or mental health that you respect their boundaries, ask and invite but don’t push. Making someone do what you think is right for them is often not the right course of action so just check in with yourself before you share your thoughts and opinions.
For many of us the festive season is a magical time of the year. With gorgeous decorations, over excited children and the rare opportunity to stop work and overindulge in all the good things. But there’s no getting away from the fact that Christmas also brings with it its own unique challenges and pressures. I hope that some of the tips and ideas here help you to slow down, savour the day and make this Christmas one that you will remember for all the right reasons.
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