Here we are again. So much to do and so little time. The holiday season isn’t called the silly season for no reason. Somehow we start to panic and try to finish all those half accomplished jobs, shop for everyone we have ever known, feel compelled to over spend, over eat and over drink. We organise to meet up with all our family and friends, turn up to every Xmas function, design menus and decorate our homes and it all has to be done before the 25th of December. Stress levels rise, anxiety kicks in, we become tired and emotionally fraught as we try to squeeze in a years’ worth of celebrations in a few weeks. So here are a few ideas that the team at Moving Mindsets came up with that have helped others calm down and focus on having a healthy mind over the holiday season. Why not try a few? Better still try and think up some of your own?
1. An act of Kindness.
Do something for others. Sometime this week find the time to do an act of kindness for someone else. It could be to bake a treat for a neighbour, give someone a compliment or help a stranger in a simple way. Making others happy is a great stress relief.
Put up some decorations or a couple of pretty trinkets. Make some decorations, buy them or reuse old ones, any way you can, decorate your house to show a festive spirit. Even if you are on your own take the time to adorn your space with a few things of beauty or character that has some meaning for you. Not everyone can share this time with others, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate this time of year for yourself.
3. Heart and Head.
Use both your head (intelligence) and your heart (emotions) to make a decision that will provide a balanced or positive outcome. Sometimes we let our hearts rule our heads but in times of stress, relying on our head to make choices can reduce the chaos of Christmas time.
4. Mini Mind Declutter.
Practise cleaning out your thoughts by focusing on things that are important and discarding old, useless lingering thoughts that have taken up space in your mind all year. Let go of irritating frustrations, niggling grudges and old worries. Time to clean house mentally.
5. A New Habit.
We are very good at holding on to old, bad habits. How about starting a new one that enhances your life? Starting the day with a quiet moment of reflection or meditation? Go for a walk. Start to drink green tea. Increase your water intake. Whatever small habit you can introduce into your day will make a difference at the end of the week.
6. Don’t forget to laugh.
Find some time to watch something funny. A favourite sitcom, you tube blogs or a movie. Anything that tickles your fancy and stretches your mouth upwards. Let yourself laugh until you cry happy tears. It’s good for the soul.
Feeling lonely? We need human interactions. Try to have an adventure by striking up little incidental, conversations with people you bump into during the week. Shop keepers, bus drivers, people waiting for trains, standing in a queue, anyone that crosses your path. All these interactions can create an opportunity for connecting with someone. These are moments where you can practise being friendly, open and warm with others and in this way feel less isolated and alone.
Re-oxygenate your body by breathing to reduce stress and anxiety. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Notice how your upper chest and abdomen are moving while you breathe. Concentrate on your breath and try to gently breathe in and out through the nose. There is normal breathing, exercise breathing and anxiety breathing. Check which one you are exercising.
9. Self Soothe.
Rub oil into your hands and feet. Moisturise to soften and nourish your skin and massage those tired and weary muscles. Take long, warm baths or showers and put your feet up. Send the message to yourself that you’re worth taking care of.
10. Shut down social media.
Seriously, turn it off for a while. Stop filling your head with idle chatter and gossip and focus on something real. Like the people around you, the tasks you need to finish and the self-care and reflection you should be doing to reduce your stress.
11. Cloud watch and be still.
Slow the world down and spend some time sitting or lying down and watching clouds float by, bump into each other and melt together. And don’t just watch the summer clouds. Look at the storm clouds as they can be just as fascinating and beautiful if you are looking at them in the right mindset.
12. Best friend yourself.
Treat yourself as you would your best friend. Be kind and compassionate. Forgive yourself for lapse in judgment and when you make a mistake. Look at yourself in the mirror with love and humour. None of us are perfect.
Treat yourself to something interesting to read. It can be a book, a magazine or newspaper but try to find something you normally wouldn’t purchase. Expand your knowledge and interests.
Ask a mate or friend for lunch and find a new place to go. Enjoy experiencing new food and good company as you balance your hectic life.
15. Donate to Charity.
Find a few items of value that you really don’t need and don’t use and donate them to charity. You could buy a small gift and give it to those who are struggling. How about donating the money you would spend on gifts to a charity one year. Or set a low limit on what you will spend on gifts or celebrating and donate the excess you would usually spend to an organisation in need. Giving is a sure fire way to feel good and have a reality check about what is real and important in our lives.
Most of all try to find the moments in your day to enjoy, laugh, relax and celebrate. After all isn’t this really what we are trying to achieve during the festive season?