Ah, Christmas. Is it possible to experience mindfulness at Christmas, the most frantic of seasons?
Personally, I like Christmas from afar. I love the nostalgia of carols, that warm fuzzy feeling from mulled wine, and those cosy fireside nights. But as it gets closer, Christmas can feel like an unstoppable beast, demanding constant activity and frenetic spending.
On Earth, Peace
At the birth of Jesus, the angels said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14) but sometimes it doesn’t feel very peaceful at all. Sometimes it feels as though the true meaning of Christmas has been swallowed up in commercialism and busyness.
We can feel as though we’re on a hamster wheel, just trying to keep up with all of the events and gift-giving. Most of us probably spend more than we can afford at Christmas, too, just because we feel like we should.
But is there an alternative?
Keep reading for some tips on how to have a mindful Christmas, and how to gain a sense of calm about the season.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being present in the moment. It is proven to reduce stress in our lives and there are numerous ways we can practise it. Mindful.org has some more information about it.
Here are a few quick mindful practises you can fit into your day-to-day life.
Sit on the floor. Cross your legs and rest your arms on your legs. Make sure you aren’t holding tension anywhere in your body. Focus on your breathing. If your attention wanders, then bring it slowly back. Stay like this for five minutes and try to increase it gradually. It can be helpful to use colors here. Choose a color that represents your negative feelings and breath them out. Choose a color to represent positive feelings and imagine with each breath in that you are filling yourself with good feelings.
2. Pay Attention
Make sure you are really living in the moment that you are in. Focus on what you can hear, smell, taste, touch and see. Sometimes it helps to run through these senses in order when you are doing something, for example eating.
3. Practise Gratitude
Choosing to focus on the positive will make you happier. The more intentionally thankful you are, the more thankful you will become.
4. Spend Time In Nature
Get outside. Feel your body move as you take walks or run. Really take time to appreciate the wonderful world that we live in. When you are out, pay attention to what you can hear or smell. Notice the feel of the wind in your hair, or the crunch of leaves underfoot.
Mindful Christmas Activities
Here are some tips on how to practise mindfulness at Christmas.
So often at busy times of the year, our own desires get squeezed out by other people’s desires. Think ahead and carve out time to do the things that are meaningful for you at Christmas. It may be that midnight mass is particularly special for you, you may love wandering around Christmas markets.
Of course, it isn’t strictly practical to just do what you want all the time (hello, children), but make sure that you carve out a little time for yourself.
It’s ok to say no. If invites are flooding in, ask yourself, is this a valuable use of my time? Do I want to go? Do I feel I should go? Can I afford it? If it doesn’t tick those boxes, then say no and enjoy a bit of downtime instead.
Spend Within Your Means
This Christmas is going to be tighter for quite a few of us with rising energy prices. Just remember that it isn’t generous to give what you can’t afford. Before you fall down the rabbit hole of spending a certain amount just because it’s expected, or because you know that’s how much they will spend on you, just think about how much you are happy to spend on that person. Maybe send a simple message explaining that things are tighter than usual this year and that you are going to be spending X amount on each person. You could even say you’re not doing gifts this year to focus on having a simpler Christmas. This releases you to spend what you can afford and the other person to spend what they like too.
Less Is More
Do you actually take time to relax over the Christmas period? Think about what really matters – the time you get to spend with people. Don’t worry about the food being perfect. Make the side dishes in advance and freeze them. Serve up store-bought stuffing. No one will mind. If you are hosting, take as much pressure off yourself as you can so you can enjoy the day.
If you feel overwhelmed at any point during the festive season, make your excuses and just go and lie down in your room for ten minutes or go for a quick walk. It is important to look after your mental health. This is especially important for caregivers and parents. Make time for yourself and savor that time.
All these tips are about making boundaries for ourselves to protect our wellbeing.
The heart of Christmas is simple. It is to understand the good news of the Gospel and be thankful for family and friends around us, so I hope that you will be able to find that time to enjoy the coming Christmas season in mindfulness and rest. I hope that you will hold on to what is important and not worry about the rest.
A Prayer For A Mindful Christmas
Help me to hold on to the true meaning of Christmas this year. I pray that I would be able to walk through the Christmas season with mindfulness. Help me to hold the hope of Jesus as I share Your love with others. Amen.
“The Lord is my shepherd… He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1
Lastly, if you have enjoyed this blog, be sure to check out our other resources here at Glorify.
Photo by Yevhenii Dubrovskyi on Unsplash