Nita Saini takes us through a simple 5-step plan that will revolutionise how we feel this Christmas
Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Even if the endless shopping, cooking, cleaning and running around doesn’t get you down, family coming to stay, or striving and failing for the perfect Christmas, just might.
Being alone on Christmas Day can also be another cause of grief or anxiety, while some people might be facing the festivities after losing someone close or on the back of a serious break up. Sadly while Christmas can be the season of peace, love and goodwill to all men, there are many people who find the fun and festivities difficult to bear.
My simple tips can help you feel better about yourself, and therefore better about Christmas, no matter what their situation – irritating mother-in-laws and burnt roast potatoes included! Why not give it a try?
1 Focus on the positive
Tell yourself you will have a miserable Christmas and the chances are you probably will.
By focusing on all that’s wrong in your life – the lack of a partner, the irritating habits of your family, the lack of money or the amount of stuff you have to get done – then the mind becomes fixed on those problems and that’s all you see. Instead you need to concentrate on the positives or solutions.
At first you may need to retrain your mind to do this (see below); however, once you re-programme your mind to do this, it will become second nature, I promise.
Become more aware of your thoughts and what you are thinking. If you think about problems, you’ll get more problems. Focus on solutions. If you don’t believe this really works, give it a go for a few weeks and notice how much more smoothly your life runs.
2 Develop an attitude of gratitude
Okay, so the children aren’t getting the mound of presents they would like, the family are squabbling and the turkeys were all sold out so Christmas dinner will be ham in a tin. Chances are, though, there is plenty in your life to be grateful for, especially at Christmas, no matter what your situation.
Saying thank you for something or someone that is very special to you, and saying it wholeheartedly, uplifts you and helps you feel more upbeat.
Perhaps you can be grateful for having a family, for your children’s health or for the fact they have a home at Christmas? But just even being grateful for the small things can make a big difference.
So next time you find yourself getting stressed about something at Christmas take a moment to pause and remind yourself of your blessings – even if it is just the fact you managed to pay your heating bill or that you have time to watch your favourite TV show. It doesn’t matter what you are thankful for, just feel it with all your heart and watch your mood lift.
Devoting even a minute a day to give thanks, helps you become happier. Make it your daily mantra: ‘I am thankful for…’
3 Use those affirmations
Have you ever said to yourself before a night out, ‘this is going to be a good night’, and it turned out to be a great night? Well that was an affirmation. Affirmation is a statement (positive or negative) that you either say out loud or mentally to yourself; a statement that you believe or want to believe in.
- I am an upbeat and happy person
- I live in a loving and supportive Universe
- I experience happy situations and events in my life
If you frequently say or think positive affirmations (with feeling and sincerity), they will become self-fulfilling prophecies, especially at Christmas time.
Writing your affirmations on post-it notes to stick around the house, or having them as your computer screensaver, will act as a regular reminder of how you’d like to be or what you would like to have.
4 Spread goodwill to all men
Smiling is good for you – it’official! When we smile, we flood our body with happy chemicals. This is because it massages the pituitary gland at the back of the head, which releases the happy hormone – serotonin.
Do it now while you are reading the words on this page, and if you don’t find yourself feeling happier yet, I will eat my hat. If smiles have been rare visitors in your life recently, you may need to force yourself to do this, however the more you do it the easier it becomes. You’ll find that your smiles will spread, like the ripples across a pond. Smile and the world will smile back at you.
So no matter how much you would rather Great Aunt Joan would drink herself into a sleep rather than sit in the corner criticising everyone and everything, just keep smiling. You will feel better and even some of the good vibes may well rub off on Great Aunt Joan too.
Try smiling at strangers as well. It may be the last thing you want to do but not only will you feel better by doing so, it will make the other person smile too. And since it’s Christmas why stop there? Why not go for a heartfelt ‘Merry Christmas’ as well.
5. Breathe deeply…
Breathing is underrated! We all need to breathe to stay alive so it’s pretty important, and learning to breathe properly can make us feel amazing!
At Christmas time, breathing is our easily accessible tool for instantly feeling less stressed and anxious no matter where you are or what’s going on – in the crowded overheated shops, caught between rowing family members or in those moments after the over-excited children have rushed past you and knocked the beautifully golden turkey to the floor. It can even help deal with anxiety attacks or even depressed thoughts.
Give this a go – think of something that has been bothering you. Nothing too stressful, just something that has bothered you a little. While thinking of this situation, breathe five shallow breaths. Quickly, in and out. Once you’ve done this, notice how you feel. Do you feel more troubled about the situation?
Now, slow down and take five deep, abdominal breaths. Breathe in for a count of five, hold the breath for a split second and breathe out for a count of five. Breathe in relaxation and clarity about this situation and breathe out any concerns or worries. Repeat this five times.
Do you feel as if you can now deal with the situation and overcome any concerns more easily? Breathing properly (deep, abdominal, steady breathing) does so much to help our state of mind. A steady breath equates to a steady calm mind. Take time out of your day to breathe deeply; to help recharge your calmness and clarity batteries.
Merry, happy Christmas!