You love Christmas right? The endless list of “to dos” and juggling a already straining “ready to burst” social calendar. The Christmas shopping with almost manically happy Christmas tunes and smiling people, finding car parks when you want to be swimming, smart arsed people who finished their shopping in June.
As my meditation classes are coming to a close for this year I wanted to create a blog about how we can keep the sense of calm draped casually around our shoulders,as we move from one frantic, busy (sometimes drama filled) time to the next. This Christmas, rather than teeter tottering on the crazy carnival ride that is Christmas with the family/ friends, learn to breathe, be calm and feel peaceful.
So here are some simple tips to help soothe the nervous system.
1) Let go.
For some Christmas can be what we call a “passionate” time ( not in the fun way) tempers fray over putting together dollhouses at 3am, simmering dislike or tension can turn into a full blown fight during a game of twister. For others Christmas may be a time of loneliness or regret.
In the meditation classes we talk a lot about the effects of replaying negative thoughts and old hurts on your nervous system. Did you know as clever as our brain is, it cannot differentiate the difference between what is a real or perceived threat? Most of the adverse effects of stress comes from the activation of the flight or fight part of the nervous system and our bodies, in the aftermath, are awash with stress chemicals that can affect your health. If people want to hand you their bitterness and judgment over Christmas you are not responsible for it – you don’t have to own it. You are not responsible for how people act and interact. You are responsible for you. So don’t be the person in the middle of the drama or perpetuating the drama when it’s all said and done. Slowly breathe in and out – and let it go.
2) Create a sanctuary.
Whether this is in a room in your house or outside under a tree. Sometimes you need a place to escape to (or hide – no judgment) that is calm. If you are up to your eyeballs in relatives staying over, or the kids are being just a bit too excited about being on holidays, tag out and go and unwind. Why not run a bath with delicious oils and listen to some relaxing music ? Or try my favourite of getting up before everyone else and take a cup of tea outside and watch the sunrise.
3) Meditate daily (even if it’s for 10 minutes)
Carve some time out to pause and breathe. If you find your mind is too active some people find it useful to use a guided meditation. I love the yoga nidra apps – when I am busy I lay on my bed I tune out for 10 minutes and feel pretty chilled afterwards. It’s important to keep our mind in the present and any thoughts that come through our mind ( and they will believe me) you let them float by like a cloud – don’t grab them and hold onto them for grim death. If your mind cannot focus and is too busy I ask people concentrate on the area between your nose and your upper lip. Give it a try – when you focus and breathe in you will feel a cool breath and when you exhale it will feel warm – thus is the miracle of gas exchange in our lungs.
4) Schedule in some quiet / self-care time.
Too busy? in the weeks leading up to Christmas – actually schedule quiet time on your calendar – and book ahead!. It may be half an hour or it could be all day. I call them cave days and I crave them. It’s just me and myself doing nothing much. There are no distractions, no technologies. I can think and muse, look at the sky and pat my dog; or I can go and get a great massage. These strategies will nurture you and help to bolster you for the Christmas Frenzy.
5) Say no.
It seems some of us just cannot say no when asked to do something we don’t want to do. We don’t want disharmony, we may want to be a pleaser. I am here to tell you it is ok to say no. If you can’t fit in another social outing, another piece of Christmas pudding – you can say no thanks , honour what you are feeling and not feel guilty. By doing something you don’t have pleasure in you are only creating more stress in your life and honestly, who needs that?
Hopefully you can use these tips to help find some peace and calm in the upcoming frantic Christmas period. It is imperative we nuture ourselves through regular self care, time outs and meditation , and let negative feelings drift past you whilst you immerse your being with joy and laughter.
I wish you all a Tranquil Christmas,