Posted: by Jo Monday, 4 November 2019 @ 16:55
Mindfulness is simply a mental and emotional discipline of
being absolutely absorbed in the moment, and paying proper attention to it.
It means not allowing our minds to wander onto something
else, or our attention to get distracted. It means not fretting about something
that happened yesterday, or worrying about something we are doing tomorrow. It
means simply being here, in the present moment, being absorbed in what we are
doing right now, and who we are with.
many advantages of a mindful approach to life include being calmer, happier,
and less stressed. The people around us benefit, as they recognise that they
have got our full attention, not just a piece of it. And we ourselves benefit,
as we are able to give full focus to one thing at a time, without the
time-consuming and ultimately unsuccessful habit of trying to multi-task.
There is compelling evidence that being fully absorbed in an
activity – often described as being ‘in flow’ – gives us a deep sense of peace
So, at Mantra, we are very keen to help you find ways of
enjoying the festive season with this mindful approach, to enable you to be
your calmest, happiest self.
Here are our 6 tried
and tested tips to having a mindful Christmas 2019:
1. Mindful Christmas
The earlier you start your shopping, the more
relaxed and enjoyable it will be. Buying a thoughtful gift for someone you love
should be a joy. There are few pleasures in life as wonderful as seeing someone
open a gift which is received with genuine happiness and appreciation.
Choosing the right gift for someone gives you
the chance to connect emotionally with that person, as they receive it from you
and open it. Gift-giving is an ancient tradition that bonds people together;
shows love and affection; and confirms how much you appreciate someone.
Make a list of everyone you need to buy for,
and set a budget. Spend time well before Christmas, making notes, gathering
ideas, working out what they would like. Try not to get caught up in the
commercial chaos of Black Friday or last-minute panic buying.
Aim for gifts that are lasting and
meaningful, rather than throwaway, with the focus on them being relevant to the
person you are gifting to, and thoughtful. Perhaps consider gifts that help
other people – maybe ones with a charity connection; or gifts from companies
that prioritise sustainability and saving the planet.
If you are on a tight budget: are there any
low cost gifts that you can make yourself? Or free gifts, like offering
babysitting, practical help or expertise?
So – take your time over choosing and buying
gifts; and start planning as early as you can. It is always about the thought, not the value.
2. Mindful Christmas
Writing a large pile of Christmas cards can
seem like a tedious chore at best; a mad panic to hit the post, and a waste of
money and resources, at worst!
So, give some proper thought first of all to
your list of recipients. Older people, people living on their own, people you
don’t see very often, friends and family abroad – these are the people who
really appreciate Christmas cards.
Prioritise them, and take the time to really
think about them as you are writing; add a note or short letter; focus on your
relationship with them, and how you’d like them to feel when they hear from
you. Don’t rush this. Use a nice pen, sit somewhere comfortable, make proper
time for it.
Choose charity cards, so you are giving back
at the same time; or make cards yourself, with family photos; or buy
sustainably (FSC-accredited or recycled) – so you don’t feel wasteful of
And then think about people who maybe don’t
need a card this year. Work colleagues, close friends and family that you see
all the time, neighbours you chat to every day – maybe a phone call, Christmas
drink after work, cup of coffee, or appreciative email, would be just as effective
at sending your love and best wishes for the season?
And your partner? Your kids? For me, a
Christmas card is an important form of connection with the people we love the
most, when we take the time to write a loving and appreciative message to the people
who mean the most to us. It is very different from a text message or phone
call; and I have kept many cards from my parents and my husband over the years.
But you may not be as sentimental as me! Do what feels right for you, and your
3. Make space to savour
Christmas is a time when it is all too easy
to over-commit. In our heads, we have all this time when we can catch up with
friends, spend time with our family, go to parties, watch tv, chill out, fit in
some sale shopping, make plans for a new start…. You name it, we think we can
cram it in.
But the reality is that Christmas is as much
an idea, as it is a period of time. And there is never enough time to fit
So, block out chunks of time in your actual,
or your mental, diary, to keep free for just ‘being’. Don’t over-schedule or
Give each individual event – lunch with a
friend, dinner with extended family, drinks at your neighbours – proper time,
rather than rushing to another commitment. Make people feel valued and
important, by spending quality time with them, and giving them your whole
Throw yourself into the things that make
Christmas so magical. The tree, the candles, the garland on the door, the food,
the stockings, Midnight Mass, the carol service – whichever traditions resonate
most for you, enjoy these with an open heart and your full attention.
And savour the small moments. Christmas will
never be perfect – we all have such high expectations – so see it as a series of
small moments to be enjoyed and savoured, not one big project to get right.
4. Getting outside
One of the quickest life hacks to being
mindful is to take yourself outside.
Being in nature brings us right back to the
present moment, as we notice the sun, the wind or the rain on our face; we feel
warmth or cold; we hear birds singing; see trees and branches moving; watch
It’s easier, of course, if we live somewhere
more rural; but even in a busy city, green space, parks and gardens can give us
a few moments of immersion in nature.
At Christmas, going out for a walk as a
family or on your own is a great tradition to get into. It’s a chance to
exchange friendly greetings with strangers you pass; get some gentle exercise
to off-set the over-indulgence; enjoy some sun on your face, or blow away the
cobwebs. A Boxing Day walk, or after-Christmas-lunch stroll, can be a great way
to get everyone away from their screens and back into the real world.
5. Help someone else
Christmas traditionally is a time for giving,
whether that be gifts or time. But it is all too easy to get so caught up in
the busy-ness of our own lives and our family, that we don’t prioritise people
outside of our close network.
For some people, volunteering is a Christmas
tradition, and it can be a wonderful way of immersing ourselves in the festive
spirit. But there are many things you can do that don’t involve giving up your
Donating some special food items to a food
bank, to give hard-up families a treat at Christmas; collecting toys for
children in hospital; buying a cup of tea for someone on the streets; offering
to do an elderly neighbour’s shopping; inviting a friend over, who is on their
own for Christmas.
We can all try to be extra-neighbourly at
Christmas - carry heavy bags to someone’s car when they are struggling; smile
when someone bumps into you in a crowded shopping street, rather than getting annoyed;
hold doors open for people when they are laden down with shopping. Amplify your
generosity of spirit over the festive season – you’ll feel much better for it,
and you might even brighten someone’s day.
6. Write a mantra for
As we know well, a mantra is simply a phrase
or set of words, written in a positive way – which acts as a prompt or reminder.
It can be words of wisdom, to remind you to live up to your best self; or
something to ground and calm you when you feel stressed.
I have 7 mantras I live my life by, but I am
also a big believer in writing a specific mantra for a specific occasion or
situation. Some great ones to bring you back to the present moment, in the
busy-ness of Christmas, are ‘Be here now’, ‘Be still, be present, be mindful’,
‘Just breathe’ or ‘Right here, right now’.
Think back to previous Christmases, and
consider where your stress comes from. If it’s wanting everything to be
perfect, maybe ‘Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful’ is a good one
for you. Or if you always try to fit too much in – ‘Slow down, enjoy the
moments’. Or the simple phrase, ‘Love, laughter and family’, to remind you what
is really important to you this Christmas.
Say your mantra to yourself as a calming and
grounding reminder, whenever you find your mind rushing from one thing to the
next. Write it on a post-it and stick it in the car; save it as a Note on your
phone; stick a postcard on your kitchen noticeboard. Whatever it takes to bring
it to mind – embrace it for the season.
We hope you have a lovely, relaxing and