In this blog, I’m going to share some tips for overcoming the common challenges of the holiday season, in a more mindful (and kindful) way.
I’m personally not a big fan of Christmas...and I’ll tell you why.
I was brought up in London with an Indian cultural background, and although we did exchange presents and had a Christmas tree, it wasn’t a big deal. The toys were fun, but nowadays, the vibe has gone a bit crazy in my opinion.
A few years ago, I was in Thailand on a small island called Koh Phangan. Nobody seemed to even realise it was Christmas day! I went to a small restaurant, feeling the need to tell someone. I went in and said ‘Merry Christmas!’, and they looked around a bit confused and then smiled their characteristically huge grin. Then we both laughed.
It felt great to be in a peaceful place without the constant noise and adverts that I normally experience here in London. I didn’t realise how much I missed the peace in the run up to Christmas.
So, how can you find some peace this holiday season? Here’s some ideas, some of which are mindfulness based.
They are solutions to what I think are the biggest challenges of the season: shopping, arguments and loneliness.
Fed up with shopping?
Try buying 10-20% less than you did last year...or just spending 10% less.
Ok, this isn’t good for business, but is probably good for the planet and your sanity.
Can you buy online? I don’t actually have to do much Christmas shopping, so it’s easy for me to say. But if I did, I’d probably do all the shopping online and save myself on the time and stress.
Can you buy locally? The other option would be to to pop along to your local high street. And there’s good reasons to shop locally. If you have a nice local market, it’s a great way to put your money in the local economy.
A much more pleasant experience than fighting the queues in the busy malls or in the centre of cities, like London.
You can also apply a much more mindful approach too. Give gifts not only to friends and family, but to the homeless too. Make gifts instead of buying them. Create gifts by recycling or upcycling. Or do acts of kindness and then tell the recipient you did the kind act on their behalf.
Lonely or Overwhelmed?
For some people, the holiday season is a lonely time. You may not be able to spend time with family. And your friends may be off to see their families. And even if you are with family, you may still have a feeling of loneliness inside.
So, what do you do?
If you can’t find someone to connect with, or don’t want to, here’s some mindful ideas:
Do nothing! That is an option, you know! Probably the wisest and most mindful option too if you can manage it. You could stay at home, meditate, have baths, relax and do lots of self-care and relaxation. Or you could go for nice long walks. A great opportunity to have some ‘me time’ and recharge yourself. Who knows, if you can make a habit of this, December could end up being your favourite month.
Go on a mindful retreat - You could join some kind of formal retreat program, if there is one available, or book some time away and have a personal retreat whilst on holiday. You could even have a personal retreat at home. Here’s a list of mindfulness retreats that the Metro put together last year.
Go into nature - You could try booking some time and spend it in nature. Walking, hiking or cycling in nature can be so healing, and the exercise is always good too. A great chance to get away from screens and enjoy the outdoors. Being in nature draws your senses into the moment, helping you to be more mindful and at peace.
Practice being silent - When you stop talking, your mind eventually calms down too. With each of the above options, you could practice being silent as well. For a few hours, a day or even longer. Get some more retreat and resting tips here.
Dealing with Arguments and Fights
This season is a time for being kind and friendly and giving...not fighting. But, as we all know, conflicts can come up.
Although you can’t stop other people getting stressed, you can always begin with yourself.
Here’s some of the core and key reasons arguments start in the first place.
You have high expectations
Don’t have high expectations of anyone! You’re setting yourself up for disappointment. People don’t turn up on time. People forget things. People are rude and insensitive. Welcome to infallible human beings! If you expected everything to go wrong and people to behave stupidly, you’ve got nothing to get annoyed about.
Here’s more tips on the power of low expectations - definitely worth a read if you easily get annoyed with others.
You’ve overeaten, underslept or a bit tipsy.
You can be forgiven for overindulging at Christmas. But if your body and mind are not in a good state, it’s much easier to get annoyed and then into arguments. As soon as you feel the irritation rising, ask yourself: ‘How can I best take care of myself right now?’ - this is an example of self-care.
Easiest solution would probably be to walk away from the situation, take a deep breath or ideally, both. If you achieve this, let us know - we will all be very impressed!
You’re taking things a bit too personally.
If someone calls you an idiot, or spits out the brussel sprouts you spent hours cooking to perfection following Jamie Oliver’s latest ‘wicked’ cook book, please don’t take it too personally.
Here’s a Psychology Today article on how to not take things personally.
I hope you don’t take my advice personally. :)
Christmas (aka the holiday season) can be stressful as well as fun.
Make the time for fun for yourself by taking at least one of the above tips, and putting it into action for a few minutes a day if possible.
And if that feels like too much, just take a deep, mindful breath from time to time. The simplest strategies are often the best.
How will you ensure your Christmas is a mindful one? Comment below and let’s chat!