Our Mindfulness meditation practice can help us in to responding to overwhelm during the Christmas period.
Some of us have a wonderful time at Christmas, others experience overwhelm and yet others experience both – whichever is the case mindfulness practice can help. It can help us to really tune into the joyful moments of connection and laughter. It can also help us to gain perspective in moments of challenge.
I find myself in tears a lot at Christmas. Sometimes tears of frustration or disappointment, but more often tears of nostalgia or joy.
The frustration or disappointment is generally down to unmet and often unknown expectations or assumptions about how I or how other people or situations should be, especially in the face of differing sets of cultural and family traditions coming together. I can recommend reflecting over past Christmases to explore any assumptions or expectations that have caused past upsets. Ask yourself ‘What am I assuming here?’ or ‘What expectations are not being met?’ Often simply understanding the mis-matched expectations can take the hurt out of a situation we have taken personally and can form the basis for moving forward skilfully. We can at least open a discussion about our expectations and assumptions – if on reflection we deem them to be reasonable!
Often it is the kindness at Christmas that makes me cry, sometimes accompanied by a sense of nostalgia. The woes of the world are challenging, but seeing the enormous efforts some people go to in order to make to make the world better are a trigger for my tears. This might be a kind response to the plight of a homeless person or to someone who is old and lonely at Christmas. The other trigger is Christmas movies.
I have come to accept these tears. I allow them to come, curious about the emotions, thoughts and feelings that accompany them, rather than feeling self conscious and suppressing them. My family are used to this and so roll their eyes with a sense of sympathy these days. The tears are generally cathartic and I expect that they are an expression of some underlying hurt from the past that hasn’t yet come to light through my mindfulness practice.
Here are three tips about how mindfulness can help with overwhelm at Christmas:
- Despite being busy make time for mindfulness practice as it will sustain you through the often emotional and busy Christmas period. Try for one longer period each day, as well as daily life practices, such as mindful eating, mindful washing up and becoming mindful on hearing a phone call ring or a text ping on your or another’s phone.
- If you find yourself becoming stressed or overwhelmed take yourself to a quiet place out of the way place (the loo is a good option as you are unlikely to be disturbed) and do a breathing space or a self compassion break – both available at the touch of a button and for free on our Mindfulness Based Living app.
- Make time for a daily mindful walk out of doors, during the hours of daylight. Wrap up warm, even if it is just for five minutes and go into the garden or to the local park or pond and feed the birds. Feel the cold air, sun or rain, breathe the fresh air, look at the sky and relish the view.
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas, whatever you are doing. I hope you can make time for mindfulness and if you do I hope it helps you and those around you to be happier.
P.s The Mindfulness Association are also running Mindfulness Christmas Practice days. Why not join us!