Beneath all the tinsel, fairy lights and excitement of Christmas, there is much external pressure to be having a good time. The whirl of socialising, celebrations, eating, giving and receiving gifts can easily become overwhelming. Emotions get high – being with family can bring up grief, the loss of loved ones, childhood memories, and triggering behaviours.
All of which is why we need authentic moments of self-care and ritual, allowing us the space to process all the goings on. When we gift ourselves moments of rest and restoration, we can begin to experience a sense of natural peacefulness that exists beyond all the highs, lows and commercial celebrations. Best of all, the more peaceful we become, the more able we are to radiate calm around us.
The key is actually very simple and begins with consciously slowing down so that we can notice our behaviour patterns. Admit it if your tendency towards perfectionism is making you take on too much. Recognise when you need support; and when you’re tired, take a rest. Trust it’s ok to say ‘no’ to an invitation, and instead schedule a meet up in January/February as something to look forward to in the New Year.
Most importantly take time for yourself with these mindful rituals. They take just a few minutes, and yet when practised daily can help deepen your enjoyment of the festive season more fully this year:
Lighting a candle every morning in December is a lovely, meditative ritual. Take just five minutes for yourself, light your favourite candle, then close your eyes and set an intention for the day. Raise your gaze slowly, resting your eyes in soft focus on the flame, taking in its colour, shape, the flickering movement for a minute or two. Close your eyes again for as long as feels nourishing before finally opening them slowly, ready for the day ahead.
Our fitness routine may get lost in the Christmas calendar – so appreciate your body in another way with daily self-massage, known as abhyanga in the yogic system of Ayurveda. It’s simple, takes a few minutes and is a soothing, calming ‘hug’ for body and mind. Pre shower or bath, warm a generous amount of organic, cold pressed sesame or coconut oil in your palms and mindfully massage in upward strokes from feet to neck, face and scalp (optional) before showering off.
A super quick way to bring yourself into the present moment is to nose breathe. Whether you are sitting or standing, let the weight of your body sink into the chair or into your feet on the floor. Then see if you can allow the breath to move in and out of your nostrils for a minute or two. When we’re busy/distracted, we tend to mouth breathe, and gently redirecting the breath into the nose brings about a calming, parasympathetic response in body and mind.
Taking a few moments in contemplation allows us to immerse in the sensory act of eating. That way we can savour festive treats without the urge to over indulge. In the preparation or unwrapping of food, be aware of the colours, textures, aromas of the ingredients – fully appreciate their beauty. At the table before you start eating, take a moment in silent gratitude for every single thing that had to happen in order to create the meal in front of you, with intention to eat and enjoy.
Visit our YouTube channel and enjoy ‘Conscious Christmas’ sessions throughout December. Including meditations with the author of this blog, Catherine, as well as low-impact and high energy workouts.