Put the JOY back into the Festive Season with 3 Easy Tips to Offset Overwhelm

As the holidays approach and I feel like I am only just getting comfortable with my autumn and back to school routine…I am sort of squinting and in a funny shade of denial about the festive season marching towards me. I am totally that dork that loves Christmas ~ the lights, making fudge, wrapping presents, velvet, poinsettias, cards ~ it all gets me pretty excited BUT I am also no stranger to the Christmas melt downs, guilt, exhaustion and general overwhelm.

So it’s back to basics ~ this is a time of year for celebration, joy & graciously receiving and here are 3 tips rooted in mindfulness practice that can help anyone, anywhere have a truly beautiful festive season and end of the year.

  1. Create a TO BE list. Then use it as a lens for your to-do list. The BEING is WAY more potent than the doing. How do you want TO BE over the festive season? How do you want to feel? I’m going for cozy, well rested, celebratory, joyful, expressive, fully present, grateful. Your presence is your gift, and whatever you do, do it with joy. If you see something on your to-do list that you just cannot imagine doing with joy…do you really need to do it? And ask how you can bring more joy into each task…Christmas cards, think about how happy you are to have these relationships; decorating, use your creativity, take time appreciate your efforts and remember FUN is FUEL. If you have kids around, ask them! Ask them how you could make such and such task more fun. And if you do slip into overwhelm…pretty please, mind your vibe and correct asap…think about it…who do you want to hang out with at a Christmas party? The super stressed out person mumbling about how busy they are with tired darting eyes, totally incapable of listening or engaging in conversation because they are running over and over their to-do list in their head (it’s OK, we’ve probably all been that person at one time! Be gentle with them!) OR would you like to eat fudge with the calm, joyful person who is present in the moment, listening, engaged and smiling from the inside out? You choose and you be.
  2. Give up guilt & judgement. Just do it. Notice when it creeps in, how you judge yourself and others…forgive yourself because we are conditioned to do it and sadly it’s a bit of an epidemic…BUT you don’t have to participate. At the core of mindfulness is present moment awareness with the suspension of judgement. It’s so, so much nicer to live in a world where we aren’t harshly judging, but rather accepting what is and going from there. Tree fell down? It doesn’t mean you suck at Christmas, it’s a good story to tell over eggnog. Amazon delivery totally mucked up? It doesn’t mean Christmas is ruined and Amazon is the devil, time to get creative. Drop any resistance, drop any judgement, drop any guilt. This will do wonders for your relationships you find tricky too. Take people as they are in the moment, don’t cast a shadow of past wrongs ~ the past can’t be undone, we can only create in the present moment. Let people surprise you and don’t judge them if they fall short of what you think they “should” behave like. This will free up a lot of energy, judgement and resistance are massive vitality suckers. Extend this non-judging towards yourself too…don’t dwell on any past (perceived) holiday short-comings…do what you can with what you have and keep your eye on your TO BE list!
  3. Practice self-care and do it shamelessly. You don’t need to ditch your family over Christmas & New Year for a five star retreat in India or have a masseuse & shaman move in with you…(although, I would totally salute those choices!) Keep it simple to keep it going. Self-care is simple daily stuff like GETTING ENOUGH REST and generally being kind to yourself. Do what brings you back to you…maybe that’s yoga, maybe that Game of Thrones, maybe that’s reading a novel with a cuppa, taking the dog out for an extra walk, remembering to take your multi-vitamin, having way too much of your favourite tea in the cupboard, doing a gratitude journal, dancing to Lenny Kravitz…whatever. Just do it and do it every day. If you have demanding kids around or even a slightly stressed partner, it can be very tempting to put their needs and demands first and also to feel a bit guilty about taking time out for yourself if they are needy or struggling…SO many times I have heard this story from my students particularly when they are treating themselves to a yoga or meditation workshop ~ the kids were going nuts, my partner looked so tired, but they knew I was going out for a few hours, I had told them, normally I would have just stayed to sort it all out, but I left them to it because I really needed some me-time and when I got back I felt SO much better, they were fine and I was able to enjoy myself with them! ~ Your self-care benefits you AND those around you. As well, it is excellent behaviour to model to others, particularly the loved ones we live with. Don’t wait for permission, you and your wellbeing are your responsibility.

I hope that helps! I’m running a workshop on The Mindfulness Christmas Helper in London ~ please join me on the morning of Saturday 18 Nov from 10am — 12:30pm. Wishing you a joyful, guilt-free, beautiful festive season! www.meredithyoga.com