Christmas is fast approaching and that means you might be experiencing quite a few emotions from excitement to anxiety, stress or depression.
Christmas has always been portrayed as a happy, joyful time, where we spend the day with family and loved ones, but it’s not always easy. If your budget is tight, then the weeks leading up to Christmas Day can be very worrying too.
Thinking negative thoughts only leads to more negative thinking, as we struggle to disconnect and move on. But there is something you can do to rid yourself of negative thoughts.
Mindfulness can help you handle your negative emotions and stop them in their tracks. It’s a Buddhist practice but is used all over the world. The NHS often refers patients for mindfulness training to help with depression and anxiety.
It’s a meditation technique that involves sitting quietly and focussing on the present. It’s about being aware of your breathing, sensations, and your current emotional state without letting your mind wander. Mindfulness can help you see that thoughts are just thoughts and you can choose how to respond to them.
It can take time to learn to meditate, that is, being in the moment without thinking about anything, so start with just 10 minutes a day. But with time, you will be able to practice mindfulness as you go about your day, helping you to take control of negative thoughts whenever you experience them. If you feel stressed, closing your eyes and focussing on your breathing can have a significant positive impact. Mindfulness is about focussing on the present, not ruminating on the past or mulling over the future.
Mindfulness can also free us of negative emotions towards mundane tasks, for example, doing the dishes. Instead of being angry that you have to do the dishes because nobody else will, focus on the warmth of the water, the bubbles and the task itself. It makes it what it is, and this simple technique can free you of the negative emotions associated with it.
Mindfulness can help you deal with the possible stresses of Christmas and beyond. Another way to manage a different outlook on life is to practice gratefulness, which we will discuss in the new year.
For more information on mindfulness, see BBC Radio 4 Woman’s hour on Mindfulness: “A way of connecting with and seeing clearly what’s happening in our life.” – www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p021xg6w (11 min)
Neal’s Yard Holidays has retreats specifically for mindfulness.