Many people look forward to the Christmas season, where the birth of Saviour Jesus Christ is celebrated. Visiting relatives and friends and enjoying the break from the general routine can be a welcome opportunity to relax.
However, for many others, it can be a season of dread. For whatever reason, some have been estranged from their families or friends and will spend this time alone. For others, maybe the busyness of the season leaves them totally exhausted and grumpy.
However, you may spend Christmas and the New year; the season draws us away from our usual routines and habits that keep us on an even keel. Frequent disruptions can leave us feeling unsettled and not particularly jolly!
This is a time that we should not neglect self-care. Neglecting to care for our wellbeing may lead to stopping us from enjoying the festive season, and we don’t want that!
Before, during, and after Christmas and New year, you need to take the time to look after yourself mindfully – even if it’s just in a small way.
As you know, I am a big fan of mindfulness because it brings my mind in sync with my health and wellbeing. For example, mindfulness can play a part because when you enjoy your food and are at peace when you eat, it aids your digestion and assimilation, therefore crucial to your overall health.
If you are following me, you will know that there is far more to mindfulness than a short blog can contain. This is because I have so much to share. Therefore, I am writing another book on Mindfulness Living, which features issues around mental health. It will be published and made available to you later in 2022 – so keep a lookout for that!
Here are Important practical Tips to help you stay well and relaxed over the festive season and into the new year.
If you are anything like me, it’s so easy to over-indulge and stop paying attention to what you’re putting in your mouth, how you are eating, or how much you’re’ actually eating. Mindful eating slows us down to appreciate what we’re eating.
Eat with Focus
Make it your primary focus not to get distracted when eating and ensure you enjoy the meal.
Mindfulness is simply focusing on what you are doing, feeling etc- also a great practice to stop you from overeating. Mindfulness eating is simple- think about your body and stop eating when you feel full – and eat only when you feel hungry, not just because you want to or have to.
We grab a bite or two wherever we can. Without thinking about it, we eat in our cars, at our desks, walking up the street or in front of the telly, and before you know it, we have polished off far more than we should have! We lament at our growing waistline or that sickly feeling that comes with overeating.
Overeating may become a habit but is not an ideal approach to eating and may cause digestive problems.
To eat mindfully, we need to develop god Well- Habits as I call them. When we develop the habit of eating mindfully, it will come naturally without any deliberate effort. The healthy- habit of tuning in to all the sensations while eating will make eating food a more meaningful experience and healthier for you in the long run. Develop the habit to become aware of your bodily sensations when hungry and the right time to stop feeling that hunger.
Mindful eating is a habit to be developed to become aware when you feel satisfied and have enough to eat. Practice the following exercise in a place where it is unlikely that you will be interrupted.
How to Eat Mindfully
- Find a quiet space and make it enjoyable.
- Put your food on excellent dishes.
- Use good cutlery you enjoy using.
- Sit down in front of your food and take several deep breaths.
- Notice the colour.
- Notice the shape of the food.
- Notice the texture – is it appealing to you?
- Ask yourself, how does it smell?
- Notice how the food makes you feel (excited, reminiscent, happy or anxious -other).
- Notice these things as you begin eating.
- Slow down, Don’t rush to eat- take it slow.
- Move your hand slowly toward the cutlery, being mindful of the below steps
- Begin to eat Mindfully.
- Watch your hand move the utensil toward your mouth, becoming aware of the smell.
- Notice how your body reacts to the food near your mouth and notice your teeth chewing the food.
- Ask yourself, how is the food positioned in my mouth? Begin chewing slowly. What are the sensations in your mouth, on your tongue?
- Notice what tastes you are experiencing -such as salty, sour, and sweet?
- When you swallow, become aware of the movement of your throat, and try to become aware of the food entering your stomach.
- Ask yourself, can I feel it in my stomach? Is it empty, complete, or somewhere in between?
- Notice when your stomach begins to feel complete.
Go for a Mindful Walk
Over Christmas, after a few days, cabin fever begins to set in We react to being cooped up with the same people– and you end up in a mindless slump watching repeats of old movies and eating and drinking far too much- No thanks.
Walking meditation involves deliberately thinking about and doing a series of actions that you usually do automatically. At first, thinking about these steps may feel awkward, even ridiculous. But, even if you feel a little silly, try to observe at least these four essential components of each step:
1- the lifting of one foot.
2- the moving of the foot a bit forward of where you’re standing.
3- the placing of the foot on the floor, heal first.
4- the shifting of the body’s weight onto the forward leg as the back heel lifts while the toes of that foot remain touching the floor or the ground. Then the cycle continues…
5- lift your back foot totally off the ground.
6- observe the back foot as it swings forward and lowers.
7- observe the back foot as it contacts the ground, heel first.
8- feel the weight shift onto that foot as the body moves forward.
It may be icy outside- or it really depends on where in the world you are but try to get outdoors. If you can walk in a forest, nature reserve, or the beach- let the wind blow through your hair! If this is not possible, take a leisurely walk around a local park which is enough to clear your mind and blow away the cobwebs.
Continue to eat the meal this way, noticing as many sensations as you can.
Let me know How you stay healthy over Christmas? I would love to hear your story – so please leave your comments.
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Bye for now- and remember live life in Hope, Faith & Love!
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