The holiday season can bring mixed emotions for many. For some, it’s their favourite time of year and brings joy and laughter. For others, it brings feelings of sadness, and seeing old friends and family members may bring up memories of disappointments as well as old behavioural patterns.
Upcoming dinners, parties and gatherings may be the season’s highlights, but they can also cause a considerable amount of stress. These feelings may be even worse for those who have experienced divorce, lost a loved one or are living far from family and friends.
What’s universally true is that whatever our circumstances, in this season of goodwill there is much that we can do to create more peace, comfort, happiness and joy. ✨
We are social beings by nature and we thrive with connection, so interaction with others can give our positive neurochemicals (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) a boost and make us happier. At this time of year, besides enjoying the company of family and friends, we can choose to extend our warmth and connection beyond our nearest and dearest and in doing so we can share the joy and increase happiness all round.
SAVOUR THE MOMENT :
Whatever it is you’re doing, don’t rush – instead try to actively take pleasure in your pursuit. I recently made a decision to better enjoy the process of online Christmas shopping as often, after writing for much of the day, I don’t much feel like opening my laptop again to be attacked by consumer marketing and address form-filling. But instead of cramming this task into the beginning or end of a day, instead I made the time to settle on the sofa with my son, cinnamon tea nearby (the healthy option prior to the mulled wine-infused evenings ahead), so that we could enjoy searching for presents together and have a giggle over the reactions and pleasure we hope they’ll bring.
Whatever activities the Christmas period brings you this year, try to enjoy them for what they bear. If you’re with family and friends being active and social, cherish those moments of doing and being together, before simply rushing on to the next event. If you have a more solitary time planned, reach out to someone you might not usually, or see it as an opportunity to do something different, or something you don’t normally have time for.
As consumer frenzy threatens to take over, let’s bear in mind that giving can be so much more than gifting a present to someone. Giving a moment’s thought, a smile, a listening ear, a kind word or a helping hand can cause more happiness than the most lavish of gifts.
ACCEPT CONTRAST :
For much of the year we go about our own lives, but at this time of year we are thrown together in seasonal activity. Go into the festive season with an open mind and without expectation. Accept that differences of opinion, behaviour, wants and needs are part of the course. You can’t expect to be on the same page with anyone – let alone everyone – on everything!
PRACTICE THE PAUSE :
When feeling overwhelmed or triggered, try to pause before reacting. By taking a breath and letting a sudden emotion pass, you’re less likely to react in a way which you may later regret. In doing so you’ll find yourself more able to choose how you’d like to respond.
Breathing is something we do naturally – and yet we have a choice as to how we breathe. Learning to breathe intentionally transforms breathing from being one of our most essential functions to one of our most valuable tools as well.
Intentional breathing grounds us in the body and creates space for whatever arises. And in times of stress or anxiety it helps us to relax, open and release stress. As such it can be one of our greatest allies.
TAKE TIMEOUT :
As the year draws to a close, it’s no bad thing for us to take a pause from our daily lives, especially if they are busy and action-packed. If the season brings yet more excitement and activity, more than ever take time amidst it all to sit down, step away, or find a quiet moment in which to rest and rebalance.
And the best part is that by taking time to enjoy your own peace and pleasure over the festive period, you’ll effortlessly spread peace and joy to others. 🙂
About the author :
Clodagh Meiklejohn has 20 years experience working in the UK media, making TV programmes for all major channels. She’s trained in the disciplines of meditation, mindfulness, CBT and life coaching and directs her writing and teaching towards living a lifestyle of greater balance, awareness, connectivity and purpose. Her online courses include ‘The Empowered Life‘ and ‘The Self-love Weekender‘.
Associated resources in the GSC spotlight :
‘Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Living‘ with Padma Gordon
‘The Self-love Weekender‘ with Clodagh Meiklejohn