With the hectic Christmas Season almost upon us and with stress levels rising, it’s good to take time out to get perspective and most importantly, enjoy the season with loved ones. VOYA are on a mission to get us all looking after ourselves better and they have given us some simple mindfulness techniques for the festive season to help keep everybody positive and stress-free.
From cooking, planning, fitting in all those Christmas visits, present buying, maybe trying to get work finished before some time off, the festive season can be a time of stress.
With a little careful planning and some mindfulness techniques, you can learn to manage this stress so you can enjoy the festive season along with family and friends.
#1. Plan in Advance
As we all know leaving everything to the last minute can be overwhelming. So when December kicks in get out your pen and paper and start to make lists. Everything from grocery shopping to gift buying can be made into a list with realistic time lines.
Here are some more things to help with the planning and organisation:
- Put all important dates into your calendar and share those dates that need sharing with your partner. Include work deadlines, social events, kids social events.
- Book babysitters in advance for nights out.
- Divide up the gift buying between you.
- Be sure to get the more complex and time consuming tasks out of the way first.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from loved ones during the holidays, whether you need to talk about something that’s on your mind or you simply need help with something on your large to-do list.
- Wrap as you go instead of having to face a huge pile on Christmas Eve
- Make sure you have plenty of batteries for all the toys and gadgets
If you have a regular exercise routine or practice meditation year-round, don’t be tempted to use December as a cheat month! There are two very good reasons for this.
- With it being such a busy month you will need these releases more than ever.
- Getting back into your healthy ways will be easier if you have not taken the whole of the previous month off!
So block off time regularly to exercise or meditate, so that you can help yourself.
#3. Practice Breathing, Meditation and Mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about living in the moment. This is important to try and remember and practice at Christmas.
It can be tough going when the whole family are cooped up together but you are making memories that will last a lifetime so you should try and enjoy them as really the time will go quicker than you think.
Step outside and breathe some fresh air if things get too much.
If you are new to mindfulness check out this talk with Dr Paula Martin and for those who would like to get going with breathing techniques or guided meditation without joining a class you could download the Headspace app. They offer a free trial and takes just 10 minutes a day.
#4. Use S.T.O.P.
Things don’t always go to plan and you may find yourself in stressful situations like at the back of the grocery queue when you have everyone arriving in an hour expecting dinner!
In moments like this it’s important to use the STOP exercise to bring yourself back to the present and calm yourself.
- Stop: Pause for a moment before you say or do anything impulsive.
- Take a breath: Take three deep breaths and count to 5.
- Observe: If you can, ‘take a step back’ in your mind, and if it helps you focus take a physical step back too.
- Perspective: Take a critical look at the situation, see it from the other person’s perspective (if someone else is involved) and then harness the positive events of that day or something you are looking forward to soon and now continue with your actions.
#5. Remember to Enjoy!
The most important piece of advice we can give you at Christmas is to remember to enjoy it.
Enjoy the festive season for what it is – a chance to catch up with family and friends and to wind down from the everyday stresses that might have accumulated during the year.
Include at least 3 fun activities that are just for you over the festive season. They don’t have to cost much and can be as simple as escaping to a favourite place for a walk or a spa treat or an evening in front of the TV with a takeaway and a boxset!
It things start to get too much, use the S.T.O.P. technique where appropriate and keep going with your mindfulness techniques/meditation practices.
Over to you now. Do you have any mindfulness techniques you can recommend for the festive season? Share them with us in the comments below.