10 Ways To Have A Stress-Free Christmas
Being mindful at Christmas can take a little more practice than at other times of the year. We are encouraged and trained by society to behave a certain way, to fulfill family obligations and to keep up with the Jones’s. But mindfulness can make a huge difference to how we enjoy this festive period.
Many people may be struggling financially and this season can either bring out the inventive you or the comparison King or Queen in bucket loads. I have found mine has often been the latter when it comes to Christmas, because being on a budget, wandering Christmas markets and busy stores, it can leave me feeling somewhat lacking unless I take time to really get in touch with what this time of year means to me.
What Is Important To You At Christmas?
Does Christmas mean gift giving and receiving? Or is the sacredness of this time more important? Is it simply a special time to take a day to be with family, perhaps those you may have not seen for some time?Your balance is the most important because if you experience a more centered Christmas time, all those around you will be blessed by your presence, not just those presents under the tree.
This year I’m choosing to celebrate Yule and the Winter Solstice, a more seasonal celebration of the return of the light on the 21st of December. I’ve been clear with family members I hardly see that it’s pointless buying presents when we don’t see each other enough to even know what we like anymore. So I have taken the ‘obligation weight’ off my shoulders already. My current plan is to go to Glastonbury and take part in a sacred ceremony at Chalice Well and on the official day have a banquet of Chinese food instead of the traditional turkey and all the trimmings.
Christmas shopping can be so hectic that taking time out is essential. Slowing right down, not rushing to get done what you need to get done, because if you are rushing you are not really here now. Buying only that which gives you joy really takes the pressure off too.
So what can you do to be more mindful this Christmas?
1. If your children are wanting a lot of your attention, set your alarm for 30 minutes before they normally wake. This may seem extremely early if they are early risers, but if you take 30 minutes in the quiet of your home to follow your breath, to take some slow deep breaths, to watch the landscape of your mind, taking some real ‘you’ time, your day will unfold in a much more peaceful way.
2. Ask yourself if you are buying presents and gifts out of obligation? Do you really want to buy that present if you don’t have the cash to do so? Risk not doing this, because you will probably find out others are relieved that they don’t have to buy a gift either. Alternatively set a limit for friends and family.
3. Ask yourself if you are over-spending on your children for a reason other than the joy of giving. Are you over-compensating for something else? Do they need more time with you and fewer gifts?
4. When the comparison King or Queen arises within you, take a deep breath and gently repeat inwardly: ‘Welcome envy, welcome’, and allow the feeling to be. Don’t judge yourself for feeling these feelings at this time of year.
5. Begin to look at this time of year as a time for nurturing yourself and others, a time of peace and of love, even if you are alone at this time.
6. Organize your time in advance. This may seem to be counter to being present, but it’s not. It’s smart to plan things that can be planned in advance so that on the day you have breathing room to relax and be mindful.
7. Create a mindful Christmas for your children, perhaps involve them in all the preparations, the cleaning, and tidying and make it fun. Make your own traditions that they will remember and take with them when they have a family of their own.
8. Make gifts and cards with family. Being creative is a very present-moment experience and is probably what your children will remember far more than all the presents they open on the day.
9. Eat chocolate, yes you heard me, mindfully eat chocolate, candies or if you prefer healthier treats. Take time to savor the flavor one chocolate at a time instead of scoffing a lot of them at once.
10. Give thanks for your beautiful Christmas meal. This does not have to be a religious thanks, it can be a time of gratitude, where everyone sits quietly for 1 minute and thanks inwardly the blessings they are experiencing on this special day. Set a lovely jingle bell timer to end the minute’s silence and raise your glasses in celebration once the moment is up.
All of these and so many more can bring the essence of mindfulness into your day. From meditation to walking in nature after your dinner, to simply mindfully enjoying a chocolate with a warm cup of tea or cocoa on Christmas Eve.
Christmas needn’t be stressful if you emphasize S.L.O.W into your day.