Read right through, there’s an important challenge for you to consider!
1. Be more mindful.
We can be more mindful and slow down! We get so busy, stressed and anxious in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, but is this really necessary? Are we running around with little choice, ramping up the pressures because… It’s Christmas! The best present is being ‘present’… living moment-to-moment rather than stumbling around with future worries of what we think we ‘should’ have, should get someone – and should receive. Try to reduce ‘should’ from your vocabulary, see if you can be more ‘here!’
2. Spend what you can afford.
How often have we heard this? Since our childhood for many of us, yet, we buy ‘emotionally’, and that is often doomed to end anything but well! I recall back in the early 80’s buying so many gifts for my first love at Christmas. Was I buying all those out of pure altruism? No, I was (without knowledge at the time) trying to buy affection and commitment – because I had such dreadful self-esteem! There was no need, I was good enough all along and simply never knew it!
Absorbing the exposure to what the ads are telling us – “buy now, save £££’s or $$$’s” we are ‘buying in’ to the message that is of course, by design. Ask yourself, am I following the crowd and the oh-so-frequent messages, and if so, are they serving me? Am I making ‘conscious’ choices about what I desire, and what I need?
Black Friday? Watch THIS and ask yourself those questions! Bear in mind this was from 2013!
3. Eat and drink what you need.
Once again, if we ‘follow the crowd’ – mindlessly, we will all buy into the message that we ‘need’ more and more in order to “make Xmas special”.
I think it’s reasonable to have festive food and drink, a change from the routine but the excesses take on a whole new meaning if we stop, take stock and ask what our relationship is to the extra food and alcohol many of us consume leading to the January ritual of ‘gym membership’ (lasting on average only 6 weeks) – and tensions with those we are spending time with what might be ‘quality time!’
4. Start your exercise plan now.
…before the New Year resolution! NOW, is a great time to get into a new routine of exercise, in advance of the regrets and resolutions! Build up some form of regular exercise – on a consistent basis. This then becomes an enjoyable routine because it’s great not only for our physical wellbeing, but does amazing things for our mental health too!
This year I became a regular at yoga classes – and absolutely love the ‘me’ time. I look forward to the sense of community that can be found at such classes and engaging with ‘new’ people. I’ve also increased my walking and added jogging to the mix; balancing out my energies, avoiding ‘excesses’ here too.
5. Avoid overworking before the holidays.
The pressures at work and at home can build in advance of Christmas. But once again, with a little mindful reflection we can make more conscious choices. Does the home really need redecorating before the guests arrive? Do you really need a new state-of-the-art two metre curved screen surround sound TV?
And at work, the pressures throughout the year are in any event becoming intolerable and unsustainable. Add a mindless behavioural aspect that drives us to ‘clear the desk’ before having the chosen or enforced ‘break’ leaves us frazzled and intolerant not only at work, but increases relationship difficulties at home, leading to the over-eating/drinking escapism excesses mentioned above.
6. Consider your communications.
If we are unable to slow down and reduce our stress levels, then we can find ourselves communicating in ways that can be misinterpreted! Snappy recriminations because your expectations of self and others are not met can carry over into quality time.
Manage your pace of life, especially at Christmas – and the world (your world) comes to order. Reactions are less likely and considered responses more available. Therefore we are communicating with appropriateness, saying what we mean, being heard and understood as what we said.
7. Get and stay connected.
Loneliness is one of THE saddest aspects for those who would elect to have company, but are alone, or who perceive they are. This becomes even more poignant at Christmas time. Consider the circumstances of others, check in with them and offer to share with them. This could be lifesaver! The gift of reaching out to someone who could use this is priceless! If you are alone, would adopting a rescue animal help? (Preferably, make a decision after Christmas!)
8. Practise compassion.
…for yourself and others. Let go of disagreements with family and friends and for all our sake – make peace with yours and their past!
Practice loving kindness, perhaps repeating when the judgements of self and others arise – “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease of mind.” and then – when thoughts of those who are difficult for you to be around or think about arise try to offer them the same compassion – mentally – in your head saying. “May you be happy, be healthy and live with ease of mind.” (I will be saying these, mentally, to two of my sons who have become disengaged from me just now!)
Forgive yourself, if you believe you need forgiveness, and learn to forgive others. Holding on to the pain you believe they caused is not hurting them. Also, you could sponsor a child in poverty – for food, water, shelter, safety and an education – or sponsor a room for the homeless.
9. Switch the TV and ‘smart devices’ off, now and again.
…and reduce your exposure to 24/7 ‘news’. Better still, having switched off the electronics consider some ‘you time’ to sit and just be, or, to read or take part in something that is solely for you. Then, you’ll be less resentful, more skillful when in the company of others. Engage with others, talk and HUG! (It’s true that hugs really do make the world move more smoothly!)
10. Love and laugh all year round!
These hardly need to be exclusive to the festive season, “the season of goodwill!” Shall we extend that to our entire year?
Here’s the challenge. Are you up for this?
Undertaking to do something with all ten items here – is like trying to eat the whole elephant at once. (Please don’t eat elephants!)
Choose something that resonates with you; something that will really help you come closer to being the best expression of yourself – and then share via email with me – and I promise to reply!
Next, share when you have done ‘that thing’ or embedded a new way of being. Again, I promise to read and acknowledge everyone who does.
If you would like a more in depth discussion around any of the goals and possibilities listed above, simply drop me a line and I will put more meat on those bones!
Warmest wishes, Bob Brotchie
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).