Could you do with some handy tools and quick tips to smooth over the challenges of Christmas and ensure you have plenty of goodwill to all including yourself?
Whether you have a house full or are spending Christmas alone here are a range of tips, tools and ideas which we hope will help to keep your festive spirit high and your stress low.
1. Relative calm
Top of the list of Christmas stress has to be spending time with people you might not like that much or those who rub you up the wrong way. Here are three ways you can stay calm regardless of simmering tensions and snide comments:
- Practice the power of the pause. Don’t respond or react immediately – pause for thought and 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 feeling brighter and lighter.
2. A different perspective
Want to know how you can stop your brain dwelling on comments, people and moments that have upset you? Replace ‘why’ with ‘what is this teaching me?’ You see if you chose to see everything and everyone that upsets, annoys and frustrates you as an opportunity for personal enquiry you immediately shift your state. This incredibly powerful reframe stops suffering, breaks the mental patterns and opens up the doors to personal reflection and a growth mind-set.
3. ‘It is what it is’
One thing we all tend to do at Christmas is set unrealistically high expectations on ourselves as well as the day itself. 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 – it is merely a construct of your mind formed not just from your experiences, but the idealistic and romantic pictures and images the commercial world bombards us with.
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 floodgates of peace.
4. Be present – it’s a gift
The best way to make sure that you enjoy Christmas is to turn off your phone and be as present as you can in everything that you do. Whether it’s watching the kids unwrap their presents, roasting the potatoes or listening to the conversation round the table take each moment as mindfully as you can and allow yourself to become absorbed in the moment. Christmas won’t pass by in a busy blur and it will feel richer and more rewarding as a result.
5. Enjoying the Christmas spirit
Whilst the words Christmas spirit might summon up an image of your favourite tipple I’m actually talking about that elusive, magical feeling. Here’s what you can do to have the most meaningful festivities.
- What makes your spirit shine? Make the most of your downtime and spare some time to nourish your soul, indulge in some self care and do what makes you happy – whether thats PJ’s and a Christmas movie, a windy stomp or monopoly do the things that make you and your family smile.
- Acts of kindness and giving are good for the soul (Covid allowing) – maybe babysitting for a relative or doing some chores to help out a busy friend, even taking the time to call those you know who get lonely are all easily done!
- As previously mentioned relish every moment and be as present as you can in everything that you do.
- What better time to count your blessings and practice an attitude of gratitude than Christmas? Focus on the good and joyful, consider what you are grateful for, notice the detail in each moment like twinkling eyes and a heart felt laugh. Practice gratitude throughout the day, collecting moment after moment that makes you feel grateful.
- Play – we can forget about the simple pleasures like card or board games, wink murder, or even a puzzle. Sometimes it’s the simple moments that bring the greatest pleasure.
- Bake, listen to Christmas songs, dance, sing and make. Make the most of your time to make memories.
6. Ask for help
Some of us perfectionists and end up doing everything ourselves so it’s done to our own high standards, others just don’t like to ask but with so much to do at Christmas it’s important to ask for help. Share out the load and don’t take it upon yourself to do it all. Rope in older kids to wrap other peoples presents. Say yes when someone says can I do anything. If they don’t offer then smile and ask them to do a chore or job for you.
If you are struggling with your mental health then Christmas can be a wretched time. Other peoples cheer can make you feel even bleaker. If this is how you are feeling the best things you can do for your well being is to stay off social media and to focus on everything in the point five that will underpin you. It’s also worthwhile remembering that it’s okay to ask for help and to speak out if you are feeling low. Don’t bottle it up – ask for help from those around you and if you don’t have anyone then remember that in the U.K. the Samaritans and other charities are always there.
7. Do what works for you
If you’re alone this Christmas, whether that is because you have lost a dear one in 2021 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 and do what works for you. Alternatively you might like to treat yourself and buy in some food and nibbles that you really enjoy maybe you can indulge in a little tipple (remember that alcohol can make us feel worse just as much as it can leave us merry so moderation can be a good thing). If you feel the pain of loneliness and don’t want to sit with those emotions and let them flow then go for a walk or get busy – may be you can pick up that project you have been putting off or get that hobby restarted. Focus on self-care and doing whatever works that will see you through a day that might be really challenging.
If you are in the throws of grief then give yourself permission to express and feel your emotions. Pain is the expression of love – rather than bottling it up allow it to have expression, write and journal your thoughts, feelings and emotions, cry and sob, hit the pillow, sit in your car (with the windows up) and rage. It is okay to feel and emote in whatever way that works for you, in fact the more you honour your emotions the more you are embracing the healing process. Do not allow other people to tell you how to grieve at Christmas – don’t let them drag you to their house so you aren’t on your own if you would rather be alone. Just a simple reply like, “I need to do this my way but I am very grateful for your offer which I am sure I would love another time.”
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 with food, family and friends. 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.
If you enjoyed reading this post then do subscribe to our monthly newsletter in which we share more spiritual insight. You might also like to join our growing online community of Facebook friends @earthmonkclothing.
Fiona and Gavin