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How to have a Mindful Christmas

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.

mindful christmas mantra

The 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 and happiness.

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 shopping

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.mindful christmas gifting

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 Cards

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!christmas gift for a friend

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 resources.

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 family.

3. Make space to savour the moments

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 everything in.

mindful christmas tipsSo, block out chunks of time in your actual, or your mental, diary, to keep free for just ‘being’. Don’t over-schedule or over-plan.

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 attention.

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 water flowing.

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.mindful christmas help someone

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 Christmas Day.

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 Christmas

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.mindful christmas mantra

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 mindful Christmas!

Jo xx

 

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