5 Ways to Stay Mindful over Christmas and New Year
How are you feeling about the approaching festive season?
For some of us it is the best time of the year and for others it can be a challenge. For many of us, there is time off work, additional socialising and travel, all of which can be stressful. However, we experience this time of year, staying present by using Mindfulness techniques can help us to enjoy the ups and to skilfully navigate the downs.
To help you be present this Christmas: here are five tips for staying present:
1. Mindful Walking with Appreciation
During the festive season it can be good to wrap up warm and go out for a walk to get some fresh air, either on our own or with a friend (a human or dog friend). As you are walking, become mindful by feeling the physical sensations of the feet on the ground, the movement of the body and the coming and going of the breath. How is it to attend to these sensations as a light anchor for remaining present.
Then when the mind wanders, no problem, spending some time noticing where the mind has wandered too and then gently coming back into the present moment to feel the physical sensations of the body walking. After a while you might like to open to your surroundings via the senses, any sights, such as the sky or trees, any sounds, such as birds or cars. Be curious about whatever is happening around you.
Then whenever you experience something that makes you smile, pausing and paying attention to that experience. Imagining breathing the experience into your heart and then breathing it out to those around you, sharing your happiness and noticing how this feels. You might like to do this for several breaths, then continuing with your walk, until something else makes you smile.
2. Three Stage Breathing Space
At those moments when you are feeling challenged or delighted pause to do a three stage breathing space.
Firstly, pausing and checking in with the body. Moving gently to ease any tension and then lengthening the spine. Noticing whatever thoughts are present, whatever emotions you are experiencing and however the body is feeling. Taking some time to check in with your experience of this moment.
Secondly, spend some time focusing on the sensations of the breathing in the body. How does the breath feel as it brushes past the insides of the nostrils? Can you feel any movement in the belly or the rib cage as you take each breath? How does the breath feel as it moves through the body?
Thirdly, spreading out your focus from the breathing to become aware of the whole body as it is, breathing. Then spreading your focus further to include whatever is happening within the realm of the thinking mind. Finally, spreading our focus further from the inner experience to also include our surroundings, opening through all of the senses.
You can access a guided version of this practice on our free Mindfulness Based Living app, available on the Google Play and Apple app store.
3. Mindful Fun
Make some time each day over the festive period to do something you enjoy and pay attention to the feelings of enjoyment as you do it. This might be something creative, something social, listening to music or having a dance in the kitchen or indeed in any other room (which is especially allowed at Christmas)!
Spend some time appreciating all the causes and conditions in your life which enable you to enjoy this experience. Can you be grateful that you have this time to enjoy yourself? How does that feel? You might like to imagine breathing any joy and happiness from this experience into your heart and then breathing it out to share it with anyone that you bring to mind. How does this feel?
Make it a daily life practice to appreciate any fun moments and breathe them in and then share them with others.
4. Self-compassion break
Make a list of five things you can do that cheer yourself up and that are usually available to you, such as dancing in the kitchen (again!), listening to your favourite happy song, watching a funny video clip, phoning a friend or drinking a nice cuppa.
Then when you experience any challenging moments, pause and do a self-compassion break.
Firstly, making a gesture of self-soothing. This might be placing one or both hands on the heart, giving ourselves a hug, holding our own hand, or any other hand gesture that we find soothing. Experiment with what feels soothing and comfortable for you.
Secondly, be mindful of the moment of challenge by saying to ourselves ‘This is a moment of challenge’ and by noticing how we feel in this moment: any thoughts, emotions or physical sensations.
Thirdly, reminding ourselves that challenges are a natural part of life and that we all sometimes experience difficult emotions, such as anger or sadness. We are all subject to the human conditions, which isn’t perfect and that isn’t our fault.
Fourthly, we can ask ourselves ‘How can I be kind to myself in this moment’. See what comes to mind? Or you could do one of the things off your list of five things that cheer you up!
5. Join our Community Meditation Sessions
All over the Christmas and New Year period our experienced team of Mindfulness meditation tutors will be guiding meditation practices on Zoom each evening at 7pm and each weekday morning at 10.30am. These are completely free of charge and there is no need to sign up. Just visit our home page and click the ‘Join Daily Practice’ button at the time of the session. We would be delighted to have you join us.
We are also running Christmas Meditation days over the festive period. These online practice days take place on 28th, 29th and 30th December and 2nd January. So, if you need some self-compassion over the festive period, then join one of our online practice days. We’d love to see you there!