As we saw in the first part of this article, Christmas awakens a mixture of feelings that can sometimes seem contradictory. For example, the joy of sharing with our loved ones can be marred by sadness when remembering those who are no longer with us. The excitement of reuniting the family can be accompanied by some anxiety about the amount of work that this implies. Or it may be that we need to start a diet at the exact moment when we find ourselves with so many social commitments.
When we train ourselves to observe these circumstances through the prism of Mindfulness, we become aware of our internal tensions and are able to manage them more effectively.
In this post, we highlight five more ways in which Mindfulness can help you to enjoy these holidays in a healthier and more authentic way.
There’s nothing like a good walk to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of Christmas parties and reconnect with yourself. It’s about allowing our body to move, take in oxygen and burn calories. Something as simple as going out and breathing some fresh air can totally change your mood.
If you’re used to exercising regularly, try not to stop your training routine completely. Even if you do fewer hours of exercise or train on fewer days, you’ll feel that you’ve kept up your commitment.
In addition to helping you get rid of stress, practising sport releases endorphins that will make you enjoy your social interactions more.
But really, you don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary. Simply put on your coat and go for a walk.
If you need to shop in a particular area, try to leave your car parked and move around on foot. While you go from one place to another, you can pay attention to the surrounding environment: look at the windows, buildings, see if there are any trees... Focus on your breathing, on the sensation of your body moving, on your feet as you walk and then when you stop... Practise a relaxed attention, and enjoy the ride!
At this time of year, it’s very easy to fall into excessive consumerism and end up buying for buying’s sake. When we don’t truly attend to how we feel, we may end up buying compulsively in an attempt to appease an anxious mind.
So, when you go to buy your gifts, or you head for the sales, pay attention to the way in which you do it. Do you feel like it’s an obligation? Do you find it tedious, a burden? Do you actually keep the other person in mind when you buy their gifts? Do you think you buy compulsively?
When you go shopping, try taking a Mindfulness pause and allow yourself to connect with your centre. Once you feel calmer, try to make your choices more consciously.
We’re all immensely lucky. The simple fact that you’re reading this is proof of it: you’re alive!
It’s important to be aware of who we truly are, of the people who share their lives with us, of what we have... Sometimes we focus so much on what we lack that we don’t realise the enormous number of gifts with which we’re blessed every day.
Become aware of everything that’s already in your life (which is very much) and feel grateful. Gratitude generates positive states that help us to better manage difficult times. In addition, it makes us focus on abundance and promotes more significant interpersonal relationships. When we’re grateful, others feel we recognise them, and that has profound repercussions in their lives.
If you’d like to practise gratitude but you don’t know where to start, try taking Mindfulness pauses during the day and look for something to be grateful for at that moment. The more you give thanks, the more reasons you’ll find to be grateful. Make it a habit and see how your life is transformed.
Notice when self-criticism or excessive judgement (the famous “should” and “I have to”) are emerging and release them. You don’t have to be the perfect host or hostess, nor do you need to do everything yourself. If you need help, ask for it. Nobody expects you to be a superhero who takes care of absolutely everything by themselves.
Trust others’ ability to do things. Even if they don’t do them exactly as you’d like, they’ll do their best. Allow others to take their share of the responsibility and take the opportunity to release your share of the control.
Don’t miss the chance! Take advantage of everyone’s willingness and turn it into something habitual. Trust me; don’t leave it only for parties or big occasions. You’ll see what an experience it is when we do things without feeling obliged and when others feel useful and valued.
We tend to be very willing to give to others, but when it comes to our own happiness, then we aren’t usually so generous. It may seem incredible, but not everyone allows themselves to be happy and enjoy their life. Quite often, joy and fun are considered to be something selfish and frivolous. Or they’re automatically associated with images of people consuming large amounts of alcohol and acting irresponsibly. However, what we’re talking about here is true enjoyment, and for that you don’t need to lose consciousness. On the contrary, it’s about being as aware as possible of everything – about being totally present.
This Christmas, give yourself a treat and practise “responsible enjoyment”:
Enjoying doesn’t necessarily mean doing big things, spending huge amounts of money or getting wasted. It can mean just being present in simple things, in those moments of tenderness and warmth.
As you can see, you have many opportunities to bring more awareness to your life – even in moments of such hustle and bustle as these holidays.
This Christmas, give yourself “mindful” moments that help you achieve a state of greater presence. Bring attention and calm to these moments, so your sharing can be more considered and lucid.
Happy mindful Christmas!
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