Why the present is the only gift you need these holidays
Published: 14 December, 2017
Laura Kampel, a Clinical Psychologist and PhD Candidate at the Black Dog Institute, shares her tips for a mindful and meaningful festive season.
As the holiday season approaches, we can often find ourselves being busier than ever before. Not only are we finishing up work projects and attending events and parties, but we are also preparing for our celebrations and buying gifts. All of which means we tend to become deeply entrenched in a “doing mode”.
The festive season is a period where many of us look forward to spending time with our family and friends, taking a break from our routine and the busy year. However, for many people the holidays can be difficult, highlighted by the lack of family and/or difficult relationships with them. It’s important to ask ourselves what is most important to us, and how we want to live according to these values, so we can we can have a meaningful experience during the holidays.
Mindfulness can help us in moving from a “doing mode” to a “being mode”, and to appreciate the simplicity of being in the present moment with curiosity, openness and non-judgement. It can also remind us that we should be looking after ourselves, as once we are feeling peaceful and strong, we are better able to be there for others too. Here are a few mindful tips to help you stay relaxed over the festive season and into the new year.
1. Breathe mindfully
Focus your attention on your breath, and take a few mindful breaths. Notice how the air enters through your nostrils and travels down your chest and moves deep into your abdomen. Then follow your exhale in the same way. Every time your mind gets caught up with chatter, notice this and gently bring your thoughts back to your breathing.
2. Get walking (mindfully)
Walking is a brilliant stress reliever and mood booster. A good walk can put the world in perspective and bring about a sense of calm. Walk mindfully by noticing how your feet feel on the ground beneath you, and have an awareness of your surroundings. Remember, there’s no need to rush: slow down and savour every step. The journey is more important than the destination.
3. Practice gratitude
Take a few quiet moments every day to think about three things that you are grateful for. This can be the smaller things in life – like a good cup of tea – to the more profound – like a roof over your head. Once you reflect on life, it’s possible to find things that we can all be grateful for.
4. Listen mindfully
Give someone the gift of your attention. When in conversation, focus your attention on listening and engaging in what the other is saying, rather than letting your mind wander or thinking ahead to what you want to say. Stay in the moment and be present – you will be amazed at how powerful listening is.
5. Enjoy mindful moments
Any activity can be done mindfully. What you need to do is to perform the activity with deep awareness. Bring all your senses to any activity from walking, eating, shopping, conversing, or exercising. This helps us have a full-bodied experience of the present moment, which leads to a deeper appreciation of our lives.
Emily Cook, Black Dog Institute, 0455 100 277 or send an email
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