Christmas is meant to be the season of joy when loved ones get together and celebrate. Expectations are high for this big day, and for many, the cliché of the holidays are far from reality.
For many, this is a difficult time of year with finances under the spotlight and relationships under strain. Not everyone has a family they find easy to be around. This can mean the most celebrated day of the year becomes the most stressful.
Many of us are filled with dread, anxiety, and nervousness at the prospect of the holidays. Perhaps the thought of entertaining older relatives whom we have nothing in common with, or maintaining old traditions take their toll on us. It’s no wonder some may feel that Christmas doesn’t live up to the John Lewis, TV ads and is fraught with difficult and challenging situations.
We do have some control over this. Whilst we can’t change others or the events that occur in our lives, we do have control over how we choose to react. This practice of non-reaction is taught in Vipassana, Buddhist meditation and can stand you in good stead throughout your life’s ups and downs.
Here are some tips to help you get through the holiday season, if you follow one or all of these ideas, it will help to have a stress free and enjoyable Xmas.
Have a positive attitude
A lot of our experience in life is related to our own approach and thinking. Positive thinking will have an effect on your thoughts, actions, and interactions. Gandhi once said "be the change we wish to see in this world'. If you stay upbeat and happy despite all, you’ll be able to traverse the pitfalls and enjoy your time with friends and family.
Practice love and kindness (Meta)
Along with a positive attitude try to practice love and kindness to all, if someone is grumpy or unhappy try to send them compassion rather than letting their negativity influence you. They are probably deeply unhappy in their lives so spread a little Christmas cheer and joy instead. Giving to others has been proven to be uplifting also for the givers, so this Christmas rise above and be the kinder person.
Spending time in nature is grounding, healing and nurturing. Walking helps to clear the mind and being outside in the fresh air is good for everybody. Go walking with loved ones, take the family pet, build snowmen, play, laugh and talk as you all reconnect with Mother Earth and feel her healthful qualities engulf you.
Before and during the holidays, sit down quietly for 5 minutes upon waking and going to bed. In your mind picture the holiday you want to have, imagine you’re all getting along and having lots of fun and enjoying yourselves. Imagine the usual conflict you may be used to, but this time, rather than reacting to the negativity you laugh it off or walk away.
KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO AND LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
It’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas rush and be overwhelmed. But this is the time when you need to look after yourself in order to get through all the to-do lists. Know your boundaries & feel OK with saying no. Make sure you take time out to do yoga, meditation, go for walks or spend time with friends. It may seem like you’re too busy but the pay off is worth it.
Breathe and relax
Anytime you’re feeling inundated, just take a few deep breaths and relax. Deep, abdominal breathing can be accessed anywhere, and help you stay calm during the season. Gently close your eyes, transport yourself to a happy place, and slowly breathe deeply through the nostrils focussing on the abdomen rising. Deep breathing is the key to relaxation.
Family fun time
Ensure you plan lots of family fun time to help. Laughter will keep everyone happy and engaged. Get your favourite board games out, play charades, get the kids to help bake and decorate cakes and sweet treats. Watch comedies with a tub of popcorn and snuggle up warm and cosy next to the fire.
Go with the flow
Don’t be a control freak and go with the flow. Things rarely pan out as you planned, but instead of letting that ruin your time, allow yourself to go with the flow.
Finally taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to meditate and practice non –reaction. This will assist you far beyond the holiday season. It need only be 5-10 minutes daily. This quiet contemplation will help you cope and keep you in the present moment. You'll be able to avoid annoying triggers as your reaction to them will be different.
Ani is a writer, yoga teacher, Ayurvedic lifestyle consultant and English Teacher. She is passionate about all things esoteric and combines this with her other great love of writing. Ani is London born, she loves to travel and lives part of the year in Sri Lanka and part in Europe with her Italian husband, Andrea who is also a yoga teacher. Together they have their own wellness and yoga retreat in Italy.
Posted by Ani Naqvi