Make the most of the merry – your secret sanity saver this holiday

The Christmas holiday season is amazing. It can also feel overwhelming. And it can drive us to make it so wonderful for everyone else that we miss out on it.

Bright Christmas

Image by Viri G used with permission

Some years I’ve woken up on December 27 wondering just where the heck Christmas went. Sometimes it can feel like I worked so hard, or I was so busy making sure others had a good time that I didn’t take for myself to enjoy everything. Or that I added some extra snap to the gingersnaps if someone got on my last nerve.

If only we could slow things down, drop the tempo, and really love our all—those memories and special moments we want to create for ourselves and our loved ones.

So what’s the secret? It won’t chop any extra veggies, wrap presents, or wash any dishes for you. However, it’s easy, free, and can be done any time you think of it.

Practice mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can make an enormous difference in your life. Just look at the scientifically proven benefits (as outlined in the edX course where I learned about this):

  • Better concentration and clarity in thinking (for witty Christmas party small talk)
  • Increased calmness (for when you find tinsel clung to your backside at the end of a workday and you haven’t been around a tree since that morning)
  • Decreased stress and anxiety (for when you make the dash for the last little black dress in your size)
  • More skillful responses to difficult situations (for that loveable yet thorny relative)
  • Increased empathy and understanding of others (always useful)
  • Decreased pain in response to illness or injury (for when you slice your finger on the wrapping paper)
  • Enhanced physical health and longer life spans (for many more Christmases to come)

All you need to do is pay attention—on purpose—to what’s happening around and inside you.

Here are some exercises.

Take a deep breath

Nice and deep and slow. Push that diaphragm down into your tummy. Slowly release it. Ahh. This will help centre you in the present. Once the breath is done, notice what’s happening around you, and what you’re experiencing on the inside. Be open and gentle with your thoughts about yourself and others.

Practice daily mindful breathing meditation

Sit in a place where you’ll remain comfortable yet alert with your eyes open or closed. Breathe in through your nose letting your tummy puff out, and then exhale through your mouth. Repeat for 10 minutes. Focus only on your breathing. If thoughts pop in (and in my experience they will pop in a lot), simply acknowledge them, release them, and return to focus on your breathing.

Choose specific moments to be mindful

Pick two or three things that you’ll do often enough over the holidays that you can have your own regular mini mindfulness moments.

Perhaps one of them could be while you wrap gifts. Feel the texture of the gift wrap, the way the tape sticks to your fingers, the sound of the ribbon as you peel the scissors over it.

Or maybe it’s every time you indulge in a treat. Inhale its aroma, taste every single flavour in that bite, feel the texture on your tongue.

Maybe it’s every time you walk by the Christmas tree. Breathe in the scent in a long, slow breath; notice how the needles feel, watch the way the light glints off the ornaments.

And there you have it. Your secret sanity saver to help you make the most of the merry this Christmas holiday season.

I’d love to hear from you – which mindful moments will you create for yourself this Christmas holiday season? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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