Why meditation is the key to a stress-free festive season
-Dec 23, Hannah Hargrave, Mind -
If all you want for Christmas this year is to feel less stressed, less bloated and more relaxed then you could consider trying meditation in the run up to the festive season.
Turkey, tick! Presents, tick! Stressed, tick! The next six weeks are supposed to be filled with twinkling lights, festive tunes and mulled wine. If you’re celebrating, then the chances are that you’re already shopping for food and filling your house with gifts. But for many of us the impending excitement is marred by the knowledge that this wonderful time of year might also be the most stress filled. If this sounds like you, then perhaps it’s time to take a few deep breaths and turn to meditation.
When you’re busy with work, parenting, planning a meal for twenty people and ensuring you don’t drink or eat too much yourself, it can be easy to think, “I don’t have time” to sit down and meditate. But if you knew what just 10 minutes a day could do for your mind and your body then you might change your mind.
Set aside just ten minutes a day to meditate
“When did you last take any time to do nothing? Just 10 minutes undisturbed?” asks Headspace co-founder and former monk Andy Puddicombe.
“No emailing, texting, no internet, no TV, no chatting, no eating, no reading. Not even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Simply doing nothing.”
Despite everything that our mind does, Andy – who calls our mind our, “most valuable and precious resource” – says “we don’t take any time out to look after it.”
He points out that we spend more time looking after our cars, our clothes and our hair than we do ourselves.
We certainly take more time thinking about what we have to buy for our relatives and where we will buy our Christmas tree than we do focusing on our poor, busy brain at this time of year.
The result of not looking after our mind is that we get stressed
“The mind whizzes away like a washing machine going round and round, lots of difficult, confusing emotions and we don’t really know how to deal with that,” Andy explains in his TED Talk ‘All it Takes is Ten Mindful Minutes’. “And the sad fact is that we are so distracted that we’re no longer present in the world in which we live. We miss out on the things that are most important to us.”
“We spend almost half of our life lost in thought and potentially quite unhappy”
Stress and unhappiness negatively impacts our bodies and health. We can end up with high blood pressure, an expanding waistline (which we already worry about over Christmas) neurological and heart issues. They’re not the presents that anyone would wish for.
But there’s something we can do about it!
“There’s a positive, practical, achievable, scientifically proven technique which allows our mind to be more healthy, to be more mindful and less distracted. The beauty of it is that even though it need only take about 10 minutes a day it impacts our entire life.”
Don’t be put off meditating because it’s too difficult to focus on one thing
There are an array of meditation techniques to suit your needs and as Andy points out you shouldn’t be turned off because you don’t know how to do it or believe it’s all about ‘emptying your mind’.
“People assume meditation is about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions and controlling the mind. But it’s not. It’s more about stepping back and sort of seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going, emotions coming and going without judgement, but with a relaxed, focused mind.”
He continues: “Meditation offers the opportunity, the potential to step back and get a different perspective to see that things aren’t always as they appear. We can’t change every little thing that happens to us in life but we can change the way we experience it. That’s the potential of meditation, of mindfulness. You don’t have to burn any incense and you definitely don’t have to sit on the floor. All you need to do is take 10 minutes out a day to step back, familiarise yourself with the present moment so that you get to experience a greater sense of focus, calm and clarity in your life.”
It’s also really important to strip things back to the basics: Loved ones won’t be around forever, kids grow up and leave home and the older generation can’t live forever. So, there’s a lot to be said for savouring every single moment, taking lots of photos that you and the younger generations will treasure forever, and not worrying about anything else. Hugging someone and saying, ‘I love you’ really is the best gift you can give. Happiness, like beauty, begins from within.
One simple thing that you can do to look after yourself during the festive season is remember to take your Lumity supplements to ensure that you’re getting a steady stream of essential nutrients each day.