2017 is almost over. Another year comes to an end. For me, December has always been a bit hectic and filled with lots of expectations: end-of-year college/work stress, getting the right Christmas presents, decorating the house, baking cookies, going to Christmas markets and parties and trying to see everyone before the holidays. It is just not possible to do all that and be relaxed. I feel that media plays a substantial part in this dilemma. Christmas has become so commercial (who needs Christmas sweets in August?), so we almost forget what it is really about: being together and sharing happiness.
If you feel a bit stressed out on the days (or even weeks) before Christmas, here are my top 7 ways to increase your mindfulness at Christmas:
1 Stop worrying about the perfect Christmas
I know, this is more easily said than done. It starts with your mindset. You probably have the perfect Christmas in your mind; how you want to celebrate it, where, and the things you want to do or have to do before. Stop right here. Instead, focus on enjoying the little things (like having gingerbread and lighting candles with your loved ones). Don’t worry about the things you didn’t do. If you rush to get things done, you don’t find time to just be present in the moment. Remember this, Christmas only happens ones.
2 Spend quality time with your family
If you live abroad like me, you might see your family only every few months. Whenever I go home or my parents come visit me I feel like I missed so much that happened with them during the time I last saw them. We all get older and it just makes me realise that time passes quickly. So go and spend some qualitative time with your family and the people who matter the most to you. Listen. Do things together, like baking cookies, doing pottery or making Christmas cards. It’s the simple things that matter.
3 Meet up with good friends
For me, that’s good friends from the past. Friends, I don’t see that often. It is great to catch up after quite some time and talk about what happened in their lives. Again, don’t try to meet with everyone if you don’t have the time for it or if it stresses you out. It is more about (re)connecting and having a good time.
4 Start your day with a good stretch
Stress and sitting for long hours makes us tensed. I often wake up with a tight neck not feeling ready to start the day. Once I stretch though, I feel like a new person. If you have time for a 5-10 minutes morning yoga routine then, I promise, your day will be so much better. There are lots of great tutorials on YouTube if you are just starting with yoga. Try this one tomorrow morning: 5 minute morning yoga with Adriene.
5 Be mindful about what you put in your belly
I know Christmas offers lots of delicious and not-so-healthy treats: mulled wine, sugary cookies, fatty roast, and the list goes on. Stop telling yourself that your diet starts on January 1st. If you want to feel good, you should stick to your normal diet, listen to your body and only occasionally (not daily) have a small treat. Try to cook or bake yourself so you know what you eat. If you can, try to make the dish healthier by swapping sugar with unrefined sweeteners (dates, bananas, apples) or adding some extra veggies. Be conscious of what you eat and drink and how you feel afterwards. Lastly, focus on your meal, and don’t let yourself be distracted by the TV or PC.
6 Go for a walk and enjoy nature
Christmas time can be hectic. If you need new ideas or just want to clear your mind don’t sit on the couch and watch TV but go for a walk or a run in nature. Breath in the fresh air and enjoy the sounds of nature. Maybe count the Christmas trees (I used to do that when I was a child). I promise you will feel better.
7 Take a few quiet moments to reflect the year
Find yourself a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness. The best way is to have a daily routine. For instance, you can start with a 3 minute meditation after your daily morning yoga. I love Headspace. It’s a great app that offers guided meditation for everybody. Whether you want to find your inner balance or simply reflect how the year was for you – find a calm place to sit and think. Remember, this exercise is not about judging but about accepting everything that was.
With that I wish you all a wonderful and mindful Christmas and a great start in the new year.