Christmas is nearly here and for many it is a time of celebration, presents overeating and drinking! For others the festive period can be difficult and, even those that appear to be coping well will at some point or another suffer with difficult emotions, stress or even grief.

Living in our heads

We often have so much going on that we spend half of our time living in our heads worrying about the past or future and not being fully present to enjoy what is actually happening right now. Should we wait for the stressors to affect us before we take action?

There’s so much to do to prepare for this busy time that we often forget to give ourselves some space to enjoy the festivities. We can allow the organisation of Christmas to become so overwhelming and stressful that we miss out on the actual experience of the special day! So, what can we do to remind ourselves to turn up?

Plan your time well

I bet you’ll have a plan for what time you start cooking the meat and when the vegetables need to be on (I usually get my other half to do this), so why not plan in some actual “being” time instead of “doing” time.

It may be as little as ten minutes of focused time with your loved ones, perhaps opening presents, but when it’s time, really choose to be present and notice every little thing. The mind will really want to wander off to thinking about the gravy, but as best you can be present for that allocated time and when your mind wanders (which it always will), just notice that and bring yourself back to that moment.

Savour each moment

Finally, when the cooking is done and you finally sit down to eat, you can choose to be present again. Savour each mouthful, enjoy every laugh and every smile. Be mindful.

Keep mentally fit

Just like going to the gym to keep fit, mindfulness is practiced to keep mentally well. To paraphrase Jon Kabat-Zinn, you can’t build your parachute as you are falling. Regular mindfulness practice enables us to be able to relate to our thoughts and emotions more effectively and we learn to really experience the wonderful feeling of being present.

Give yourself and your family and friends the best present this Christmas. Be present for Christmas!