Gratitude: going into the festive season, try to think of at least 3 good things that you are grateful for. It’s easy to get caught up in frantic Christmas shopping and forget the point of it all. Gratitude can help remind us of what’s important. Remember, your presence is the best present!
Flow: try to make some time for those activities which make you feel “in flow”, I.e., something where you feel completed engrossed. It can be just one day out over the holiday period or an hour here or there, whatever is manageable for your own personal situation. Outdoors activities are a good option as they have the dual benefit of getting you out of the house while also being pleasurable. There are some ideas in our last blog here.
Increase positive emotion: Christmas can bring up a lot of emotions for people, not all positive. You can’t control others, but you can make a conscious effort to smile, laugh and tell positive stories from throughout the year or relive positive memories from times gone by.
Practice mindfulness: more time to think over Christmas may result in rumination (thinking about the past) or worrying about the future. Try being present and focusing on the here & now. This can often be easier said than done, especially if you are stuck in last-minute traffic or shop queues. Taking a few deep breaths can help calm the nervous system and bring you back to the present.
Change your thinking: our thoughts and beliefs can be automatic and often negative, especially when we are thrown together with family members or friends that trigger us. When this happens, pause and ask yourself if what you are saying to yourself is . If it’s not true or helpful, try and find an alternative viewpoint.
Manage your stress: building on point 5 above, try to replace your hot thoughts that are anxiety-inducing with thoughts that are more calming. The other aspect is managing your physical stress so finding a way to release the adrenaline, e.g., as per point 2, partaking in activities where you are “in flow”
Increase mastery: acknowledge all that you have achieved throughout the year. The small wins as well as any bigger goals. We often don’t stop to take account of everything we’ve already done as we are often too busy racing on to the next big thing.
Practice compassion: if you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself over the festive season to do everything and be everywhere, the “internal critic” can often start telling you that you aren’t good enough. To counter this, try and change the script to something more helpful like “I can only do so much” or “I can only be in one place at a time.” Think about what you would say to a friend – you would probably be a lot kinder. It’s also useful to ask yourself if there are any events or gatherings that you can say “no” to or if there is anyone you can ask for help if you are finding that you have too much on your plate.
Setting goals: as we are approaching a new year (and a new decade), it can be useful to visualise what you want to achieve for the following year. These can be goals for yourself, your family or your classroom. When setting these, as per point 5, don‘t forget to acknowledge all of the small steps along the way!
Embrace spirituality: this is not necessarily about religion; it is whatever brings meaning to you. This could be connecting with your loved ones over the festive period. It could be volunteering or get involved with a charity over Christmas. Getting out in nature is another way to create connection as is considering all the small things you can do to help the environment.