I don’t know about you, but Christmas used to strike such fear in my heart. From my point of view, it’s because I’m in my forties and single (yes, Mum – still!). Christmas seems to be just the time that everyone is grabbing their nearest and dearest. Oh, and to add extra pressure this seems to be the time of year that people think us singletons really ‘should’ be in a relationship.
For those of us with young families, there's added pressure. Kiddies and their sparkly eyes light up at the thought of all those presents. Think of the pressure for those with little ones to make sure the magic happens.
However, I have to say, I really do, very genuinely love Christmas time. I enlist a few ways to show this, and to help stay level headed. Try them for yourself...
How to have a Mindful Christmas: 5 Practices from Kat
What little life-hacks do I have to oﬀer you to turn your relationship around with Christmas and make it more mindful? Well, my relationship with Christmas has completely changed since I started to do the following:
1. Practice gratitude
In the last few years, I have taken up a very conscious practice of daily gratitude. This practice started by me just writing down the things that I was grateful for. It was a journaling, formal practice, which lasted for about 6 months.
Every night, before bed, I wrote down the things that I was grateful for. After doing this for 6 months, my headspace started to completely change. I now don’t write down my ‘gratitude lists’ (I do still journal every day) but I practice gratitude very mindfully.
I now do this every morning before my yoga practice. And also every evening before bed. I find that gratitude begets more gratitude. And that thankfulness seems to slip into my days, my life. And because I genuinely now feel gratitude for so much, Christmas honestly is something that I’m grateful for. I think that gratitude changes an experiencing of life from a place of anxiety to one of calm acceptance. Strange, I know – but it really is a life changing hack.
2. Practice meditation and mindfulness
The meditation I practice is a really simple formal practice. It's a short, 10-minute daily meditation. A quiet focus on the breath. Somehow it works some kind of magic – things which were once stressful and overwhelming, aren’t anymore. It’s amazing. So, Christmas used to spark anxiety and stress connectors in my brain; not anymore. Amazing.
3. Walking in nature every day
Walking in nature isn’t just a nice to do. It isn’t just ‘walking the dog’ and it isn’t a frog-march. Instead, it’s an essential for my daily happiness.
When I connect with nature as much as I can, then I can take comfort from the things in nature around me. Try a mindful walk in nature. Notice all that is going on. When I see the seasons changing, the birds hiding in the trees, and notice the vegetation growing and changing, I gain perspective. I become mindful of how short and transient our lives are, from the tiniest creatures to our pets, to each other.
When we are mindful that the reality of life is that change is the only inevitable, well, we start to get the perspective that this is it. That we should enjoy our here and now.
5. Do yoga for others
I’m a big fan of a home yoga practice. It's one of the reasons I started Movement for Modern Life, my Online Yoga Website, featuring my pick of the best teachers. All my favourites at home at the click of a button; without any schlep to a studio.
My daily home yoga practice really has helped inform my perspectives on life. I learn such a lot of wisdom from my amazing teachers, who are so wise when it comes to their philosophy on life. The practice of Yin yoga, though, is the practice that truly has helped me to accept, and welcome, all that is in life.
Again, this is like a mindfulness practice. It's so simple that of course, it goes without saying that we must accept and welcome the ups and downs of life.
Now, the sharp among you may have noticed that in this short blog, you can swap Christmas with anything that’s vaguely stressful in life. Just as life really isn’t about you, so Christmas really isn’t about Christmas. But instead, it’s all about the way in which you approach a challenging situation.
Really for me, when I see my yoga, my meditation and my mindfulness practices tested is when I’m in the midst of challenge. Yes, it’s easy to be the very best yogi when the skies are sunny and everything is going our way. Though, when there’s 12 people to come to lunch and the cooker has exploded? Well, if you can deal with that with the grace and kindness that you’d deal with the birth of a new baby, then you really have arrived!
How do you ensure that you have a mindful Christmas? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @wearethought
You might also love reading Kat's Tips for Healthy Thinking