Follow along to learn more about the ultimate present of being present and incorporating mindfulness in your life this year.
Text: Aina Masood
As the days get colder and darker in Denmark, our natural inclination is to slow down, turn inward and enjoy cosy moments. However, as cities shine brighter than usual, we end up doing the complete opposite. The holiday season keeps most of us busy with planning and shopping for gifts. We want the perfect gift for our friends and family members, and heaps of time is spent thinking, buying, and wrapping presents. Consequently, rather than being joyful, the holiday season can become stressful. It’s understandable to be stressed because of the high expectation of our loved ones. We must acknowledge this stress and move forward purposefully by engaging in behaviours and activities that bring us joy.
The perfect present
The perfect present for you and your loved ones is the “Gift of Mindfulness”. Mindful.org defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”. While this sounds complex and creates a mental image of formal meditation practice, there are informal ways to practice the skill of mindfulness. For example, mindful eating, mindful walking, practising gratitude and love, conscious shopping, etc. The imperative rule here is to bring your attention to the here-and-now.
"Savour the moments by being present in the moment."
How to be mindful
There has been a surge in mindfulness research since the late 90s. It has been associated with improved mental health and is also linked with reduced stress, increased awareness and insight, attention to others’ well-being, and increased kindness to oneself and others. In addition, mindfulness is considered a low-cost intervention to mitigate signs and symptoms of stress.
So, how can you enjoy the benefits of mindfulness this holiday season?
1. Mindful shopping
Before you rush out to buy presents for everyone in a single shopping spree, allow yourself some time. Use this time to think about what you need to purchase and whether your budget allows the purchase. This will help you be mindful of your budget and spending.
2. Feeling your emotions
Along with the positive emotions wrapped around the holiday time, the negative emotions like fatigue, anxiety, anger, and loneliness must also be recognised. These unexamined and underlying negative emotions might be leaving us overwhelmed and drained.
To fully engage in holiday celebrations, mindfulness can help by helping us notice our emotions. Allow yourself to feel how you feel; acknowledge that everything is all right even when everything is not perfect and that imperfection is healthy and normal.
3. Savouring the joyous moments
While we look forward to holidays and being with our friends and family, our attention to negative experiences can overshadow joy, love, and warmth. Try to savour the moments by being present in the moment. Notice how you feel while baking cookies, decorating your tree, watching movies, or just sitting and exchanging stories. Use kindness and mindfulness.
Be cognizant of how you talk about your holidays. Notice the words you use. Generally, we are tempted to say that the holidays will be busy/exhausting/stressful as too much to do. Words have power. We can manifest joy by looking forward to happiness. Try reframing and rephrasing by saying how full of love, connection and fun your holidays will be. You can also set up for success by simplifying your holiday season. For example, instead of one person cooking for an entire family, share tasks and have fun in the kitchen.
5. Listen to a guided meditation
If you want to be mindful and feel gratitude, you can practice guided meditations and use the attached links. There are also tons of resources available online.
I would also remind you to be aware, mindful, and kind as you reflect on this year and make resolutions for the next. Finally, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!