I’m currently ‘out of the office’ as it’s my birthday weekend & I’ve been put on an enforced no social media ban. Whilst I take some time out the lovely Alexandra is kicking us off in the first of my new series about how to navigate the festive season without losing your head or eating everything in sight – but also still having fun (it is Christmas after all).
Alexandra is a qualified and accredited Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist Coach who works within a therapeutic counselling framework. She coaches her clients on a one-to-one basis to help them discover what they truly want to achieve. She has experience of working with a range of different issues, including anxiety, low self-confidence and debilitating habits. Regardless of the problem, her clients always realise their full potential and get a new energy for life to start living their dreams after working with her.
I’m so happy to have her here on the blog and I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I did. Without further ado, here we go…
The holiday season is undeniably a magical time of the year; the twinkling festive lights, the wonderfully ornamented trees, the smell of gingerbread and mulled wine wherever you go and the rare cheeriness of strangers in the street.
But it has also become, one of the most hectic and stressful times of our year too. There is so much to do, buy, make, plan. There are countless social commitments to attend, whether you want to or not. And of course the constant guilt surrounding the never ending supply of mince pies which you tell yourself you are allowed to indulge in because it only comes around once a year but then quickly swings into oh god you just have absolutely no self restraint!
So this year, I want to you to ditch the stress and enjoy the beauty of the holidays. I encourage everyone to enjoy a very merry, mindful Christmas with these simple tips.
The Gift of Giving
The whole point of giving a present is to let someone know just how much you care about them. The joy of giving is in being able to make someone feel a certain way. Special, loved, appreciated, happy, giggly. And so, your gift does not need to cost the world. Instead why not get creative and make something like a scrapbook of all your memories, or a jar filled with 50 things to do before you reach 30. Or perhaps give them a voucher for your time to help them in the garden. Even taking care when writing a christmas card so that the message is well thought out can make someone’s day. Or even writing a card at all and sending it to your grandparents or parents!
Or have you ever thought about buying a gift for a stranger, someone homeless or a child in need? Check out these awesome sites:
When you open presents this year, instead of all racing to tear off the paper to get to your present first, try going round the room one present at a time. Ask them who the gift is from. Really enjoy watching someone’s delight when they open their gift, whether or not it is from you. Notice their smile. Notice their eyes. Feel what they are feeling.
And now savour the moment when it is your turn to open something. Take time unwrapping the gift, noticing the paper, the colours and the textures. Enjoy the emotions it brings. Be grateful and appreciative.
But the holidays aren’t all about the presents! The magic of Christmas is in letting go and enjoying the simple things. Do you remember how exciting it was when you bumped into Father Christmas walking down the high street and he asked you if you had been good this year? Or woke up and saw that the glass of milk and mince pie that you left to fuel santa’s long journey had been eaten? Or noticed that the space under tree which had been empty the night before was now crammed full of presents?
So this year, why don’t you go ice-skating, help make and put up the decorations or make snow angels (if we’re lucky enough for snow!!) The more merry and festive things you do, and the more you embrace your inner child this festive season, the more relaxed, refreshed and re-energised you will begin to feel! Plus you get to have a whole lot of fun doing it – trust me ☺️
Most of us live our lives at a million miles an hour, but it is so important to allow our minds and bodies to switch off, to rejuvenate and heal. Even more so during the festive holidays where we drink and eat more than we want or should! Mindfulness can really help us to slow down in everything we do.
Try going for a long walk, being mindful of the sights, smells, textures and sounds. It can help by noticing 5 of each of the senses to begin with, becoming more specific with things such as shapes, colours, the feelings or tastes.
We can also learn to slow down by eating mindfully. Life can get a bit monotonous when we are expected to attend a hundred and one different social gatherings for work, family and friends of friends. We begin to unconsciously eat and drink our way through each event until they all blur into one and you can’t remember who served what and which party! This year, try to engage fully in what you are eating. Enjoy the aromas, appreciate the pleasing way the canapes have been presented and savour each splendid bite. This way, not only will you remember and appreciate the event, but you will find that you eat and drink less, feeling better the next day.
And on the topic of food over the holiday period, don’t forget to be compassionate towards yourself! If you end up eating more than you wanted, or drank one too many free glasses of prosecco, then that’s okay. Don’t go and beat yourself up over it or question yourself as a person. We do not need to be making ourselves feel unnecessarily guilty or having negative thoughts. Just enjoy. And if it is something you are wanting to reduce then remember that mindful eating, will stop you overindulging in the first place.
Self compassion also means taking the opportunity to reflect on the year you have just had. Smile to yourself at all the things you have achieved or accomplished. Acknowledge all the hard work you have put into your work, friends, hobbies and self. And maybe take a few moments to think of what the coming new year may hold for you. Perhaps you want to set this as an intention, guiding you through any challenges that arise.
Holidays are a time for us to relax, rejuvenate and re-energise our minds, bodies and souls. The simplest way to do this by carving out just ten minutes of your morning to meditate. Find a time when you know you won’t be distracted and a place where you feel safe and warm. Your meditation can be a short mindful breath exercise, or you may choose to use candles and oils for a deeper practice. Do whatever feels right to you, but make sure you commit wholeheartedly to the experience.
And don’t feel guilty, by taking care yourself, you are better able to look after others from a place of loving kindness. The spirit of Christmas is all about giving, but don’t forget to give back to yourself. Your mind and body work relentlessly for you all year round, getting you from A to B. So this year, do something to nourish yourself, whether that’s by taking the time for a bubble bath, or curling up on the sofa in front of the fire to read that book which has been on your reading list all summer. Or perhaps getting a manicure or going for a massage.
Finally, Christmas is a time for friends and family, so where possible, put away your phone, your laptop, your work emails and be present to those around you. Notice their enjoyment when you participate in the festivities. Get involved and cut the vegetables for Sunday lunch, or help prepare the table and unload the dishwasher. Perhaps for you, getting involved means delegating the chores so that you have time to decorate the tree, join in with some after dinner games or join a frosty walk. Christmas is considered one of the most lonely times of the year, so try your best to surround yourself with those you love.
What do you do to make your Christmas mindful? Please share with me ☺️
And that brings us to the end of the post. A big thank you to Alexandra for her post this week. If you want to learn more about Alexandra and her work you can find her over at her site here or on Instagram here and I shall be back to business as usual with a new post on Wednesday. Thank you for reading and if you can’t wait that long come say hi on Instagram or Twitter.