7 mindful tips to avoid festive stress

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. But what with all the presents to buy, turkeys to cook, and in-laws to get along with, Christmas can quickly turn into one of the most stressful times of the year.

As a mindfulness coach, I’ve found many techniques to help people deal with stressful situations, and Christmas is no exception. Here are seven effective stress-busting tips to help you get through the festive period – these relaxing techniques will help you & your little ones make it to 25th December tension-free.

 

Merry Xmas light box

  1. Try mindful eating

Find yourself constantly on your feet during the countdown to Christmas? Take regular breaks and tuck into your favourite snacks to lower your stress levels. The trick is to eat them mindfully – imagine you’ve just landed on Earth from another planet, and never seen the snack before. Examine it closely, notice the smell, and consciously chew and swallow the food. Focusing on the pleasurable sensations will boost feelings of relaxation, while lowering any tension too.

  1. Practice “letting go”

Most of us find big crowds stressful. But the key is to “let go” of any judgmental thoughts that pop into your head while you’re navigating them. Observe negative thoughts like, “I can’t stand crowds”, as an impartial witness. By being aware of the negative thoughts, you’ll stop your them spiralling out of control, and avoid a pre-Christmas meltdown.

  1. Listen to calming music

Nothing beats a relaxing playlist to help you stay calm during Christmas preparations. But, if you really want to get in a chilled out mood, make sure you listen to soothing music genres. Lingley suggests popping relaxing piano music or instrumental Chinese tracks onto your playlist. Calming nature tracks, or enchanted forest music can be great at relieving stress while you’re out and about running last-minute errands or cooking a big family meal.

  1. Accept the situation

Hate the achingly long queues on the High Street in the run-up to Christmas? Much of the stress comes from wishing things were different. So instead of saying to yourself, “Why do they not have more people serving!”, try repeating the mantra, “It is what it is!” Accepting and surrendering to the situation will make it much more bearable, and not half as stressful as you originally thought.

Reindeer toy christmas
      5. Practice what you preach

With kids being bombarded with adverts for new toys and games and the upheaval of visiting family and Christmas parties, it’s no wonder children can become more demanding over the festive period, and it can be challenging to remain calm during these moments.

Be aware that your children have come to you to support them with their own difficulties and emotions, so respond with empathy, compassion and kindness, rather than projecting your frustrations or trying to resolve anger with more anger.

Open up and give space to your emotions by saying to yourself, ‘I am aware of a sense of frustration’. Next, focus on your breath to help you stay present. By not giving in to a disagreement or fight, you’re teaching your children the key skills of patience and acceptance.

    6.Simple mindful techniques for kids

If it’s all getting a bit much for your little ones, there are some simple mindful breathing and awareness techniques that you can get them to participate in.

  • Ask them to place one hand on their chest and one hand on their tummy, and pay attention to the movements of the rising and falling of both with each in and out breath. The breath is our faithful friend and can help us deal with stressful situations within the family, supporting us to stay present
  • While seated, children can pay attention to the sensation of having their feet in contact with the ground, the pressure they feel, and even the awareness of their sock covering their foot. This awareness can expand up the body – their hands in their lap, their legs in contact with the chair – and provides them with a way to bring their attention back to the calming moment.

  1. Tips for families with ASD needs

The festive period and the family gatherings and socialising that comes with it can be especially challenging to children on the autism spectrum, who may suffer from anxiety and are more suited to having structure in their lives.

Use present moment awareness to shift their awareness from stressful thoughts and actions, moving their from a ‘doing mode’ to a ‘being mode. Mindful walking is a good example of this – focusing on each part of their body and how it moves as they walk.

Lingley recommends that parents imagine their child’s thoughts as clouds moving across a clear blue sky. Encourage them to allow these thoughts to pass on by, rather than fixating and getting attached to a problem thought.

Wider family members can also help by being accepting of events that may not go to plan, without judgement. All of the above will give the children a greater sense of control over any difficult thoughts, feeling and emotions during the festive period, and will develop useful skills for the rest of the year.

 

For more festive survival tips, click here

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