Today, it’s the winter solstice – the start of winter and the season of rest. At this time of year, our bodies and souls crave gentle candlelight, the evocative aromas of home cooking, and time spent indoors with loved ones. As the dark nights draw in and the temperature drops, there’s no better time to revel in these ‘hygge’ pursuits.
But Christmas can be a stressful time. With a whirlwind of family gatherings, excited children, and lots of entertaining to contend with, it’s important to create moments of calm among the Christmas chaos. So, how do you prioritise self-care during the festive period and ensure you greet the new year feeling rested and relaxed?
The key to mindfulness is being intentional about what we’re doing and who we’re being. Setting intentions can help you create a calm, relaxing Christmas. Take a moment for yourself, light a candle, grab a notebook and make yourself a nice cup of tea.
Ask yourself the following questions. You may want to note down your answers and place them somewhere prominent to remind yourself of your intentions throughout the festive period.
- How would you like to feel during the Christmas holidays?
- Is there a word or phrase that describes how you’d like your Christmas holiday to unfold?
- How do you want to feel at the end of Christmas?
- What can you do to support yourself?
- What could you gift to yourself to help you enjoy the holidays?
Here are some more ideas to guide your intention setting this Christmas…
Intention: Communicate Your Wishes
While you’re setting intentions, remember to check in with your expectations. Are they realistic and are they what you really want? Be sure to communicate your wishes to your family and friends and ask how they’d like their Christmas to feel too. Lots of tension can be avoided if we understand each other’s needs and wishes instead of trying to manage unrealistic or uncommunicated expectations.
Intention: Create a Home for Comfort and Rest
Creating an atmosphere at home that promotes comfort and rest sets the tone and allows for a more relaxed holiday. Try diffusing essential oils and consider bringing nature indoors to decorate.
Intention: Make Time for Moments of Self-Care
If Christmas feels like it is taking its toll, taking a moment every day to pause, reflect and reset can alleviate any stress. However, it can be difficult to schedule time for self-care during the holidays when your daily routine is disrupted. Our advice is to make your intention small and achievable.
Try to find a quiet five minutes each day that’s dedicated just for you. It might be the time it takes you to drink your morning cuppa before everyone else wakes up, a moment of mindful breathing whilst cooking, curling up with a good book or a gentle stretch before bed.
Don’t choose something that feels like an extra task to add to your to-do list. Opt for an activity or practice you can seamlessly weave into your day – a small act of kindness you can do for yourself.
Intention: Do Nothing
For many of us, being with ourselves without distraction is the hardest thing to do. Often, being in constant action is a strategy we use to protect ourselves from what we think might happen if we stop.
Try to create some space to do nothing and enjoy the inactivity without feeling guilty or unproductive. If you’re super busy generally, allow yourself the gift of stillness – see what comes up when you create some distraction-free space for yourself. You might want to note down any feelings of discomfort in your journal.
Intention: Be Present
Mindfulness encourages us to live in the moment. When your mind wanders to something you need to do, something that’s already happened, or something that might happen in the future, try to gently return your attention to the present. Stop your mind from racing by focusing on what’s happening right now, the people around you and your environment. Discover more mindfulness tips here.
The emotional labour surrounding Christmas is huge. As well as practical tasks, we must also deal with the mental work involved in organising and coordinating everything that goes into Christmas activities and gatherings.
Remember, you can do anything, but not everything. Delegating helps to avoid overwhelm, but it’s something people often struggle with. Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It’s an amazing gift we give our partners and loved ones when we say, ‘I trust you to take care of the things that are most important to me’.
Since breathing happens automatically, it’s easy to forget it’s a valuable tool you can use to manage stress and improve your mood. Pausing to fill your lungs is a great way to slow down whenever you feel yourself speeding up or stressing out. You can read more about the importance of breathing here and learn some useful techniques here.
Wishing you a calm and peaceful Christmas! We’re looking forward to creating a happy and healthy 2019 with you in the new year.
Love Lizzie and the SOL team xx