With the season of goodwill well and truly here, for many of us Christmas will come as a welcome cause for celebration – especially after the last couple of years! But if you’re feeling less than festive right now, and are perhaps worrying about your finances, family feuds or the pressure to ensure everyone enjoys a Christmas to remember, your stress levels may be soaring.
To support you through the festive period and bring you some moments of calm amid the chaos, I have three simple mind tools that you can use whenever you feel the need. I hope they bring you some comfort and guidance.
Try Square Breathing
- Count to four as you inhale then hold your breath for four counts.
- Exhale for four and again hold your breath for four counts.
- Repeat this until you notice your nervous system starting to relax (take as long as you need). Doing this for 3-5 minutes each day is a powerful way to lower your stress level.
Set clear boundaries
Having a tricky time with family or friends? Relaying a gentle but clear message that sets your boundary, be it physical or conversational, can be very effective without the fear of putting anyone’s nose out of joint. For example, if you know that it’s going to be tricky for you to spend time with your family for, say, more than an evening, or even an hour, try limiting it to just that – whatever it takes to make sure you’re ok! Practice whatever self-care you need to ensure your cup is filled up so you don’t go there exhausted and likely to be more easily triggered.
When it comes to tricky conversations, you could try saying something like, ‘If you don’t mind, could we change the subject as this isn’t making me feel good’. Or, to avoid being as direct or confrontational, you could gently steer the conversation away to something else altogether.
3 Focus your mind
If you are new to using mantras in meditation, trust me, they can be hugely helpful, especially when you’re struggling with stress and anxiety. Mantra means ‘mind vehicle’ and is a word or sound repeated to help with concentration. Using Sanskrit words such as ‘So Hum’ rather than words we know, means that our mind isn’t trying to make sense of the words, but instead just uses them as a point of focus. This allows you to relax deeper in the moment. Ready to give it a go? Let’s dive into this meditation together.
Lead image courtesy of Unsplash