BEING MINDFUL THIS CHRISTMAS – REDUCE STRESS AND ANXIETY AND ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS EVEN MORE THAN NORMAL, BY ENCOURAGING MINDFULNESS IN THE WHOLE FAMILY
- Encourage thinking of others – lists and boxes. The little ones are all too familiar with writing letters to Father Christmas, asking for all the things that they would like each year. But, what about getting them to think of others as well? Or getting them to write a list of all the things that they love about their life and that they are grateful for? Ask them to write a list maybe for someone else – it doesn’t have to be gifts, it could be things that they would like to do with that person, or how they would like to make them feel. The trick to making this task mindful is asking the child to explain why they thought about this. To encourage them, you can write a list of your own and share your ideas together. Or make a box of toys or clothing using things from drawers and cupboards no longer valued or needed. Get the children to spend time preparing the box, putting thought into it for other less fortunate children, and really enjoying the act of giving and appreciation for all they have in comparison to others.
- Try some meditation / story telling. Ask them to imagine that they are on a magical sleigh in a winter wonderland scene. They need to think about the speed of the sleigh, the temperature, who they are with, and what they can see, what they can feel, what they can hear. Sounds are often just as important to a child’s understanding and interpretation of something as what they can see. Connecting children with sound and its relationship to thoughts and emotion is central to mindfulness – and to becoming happier, more relaxed young people. Take this further and create an imaginative Christmas story building on the above, and allow your own and their imagination to expand…children love being told a story particularly if mum or dad or nan or grand-dad have ‘made it up’, especially for them. This allows mindfulness and the opening of the sub-conscious mind (imagination) to work together – powerful, beneficial and highly enjoyable.
- Get outside – particularly amongst greenery. The colder winter weather is often a convenient excuse to stay inside in front of the TV, and not pay too much attention to the outside world. But, try to encourage children to wrap up warm and head outside. Walking is a brilliant method of relieving stress and boosting your mood. Going for a walk together allows you to take a collective break from the stress or excitement that is unfolding at home. There’s no need to rush anywhere – take your time. Focus the child’s awareness on their feet coming into contact with the ground and feeling all the fluid movements of their muscles and how their lungs and heart feel. Point out the lovely scenery and the detail of what can be seen, how the cool air feels on their faces, and how cosy they are all wrapped up against the elements. And as you breathe, feel the benefit of the highly-oxygenised air if walking in areas with plenty of greenery. Get them to notice the world around them, and what is going on in their own bodies and minds.
- Bake or cook together. Christmas is possibly a time when we bake and cook more than any other – why not use this as an opportunity to involve the children or the grand-children in learning to bake and cook…maybe even developing a life-long love of creating wonderful foods? In the selection of ingredients, weighing, mixing, teaching the health and safety issues – what they need help with and what they can do alone. This involvement is very mindful – very much in the here and now, and will teach children the art of creating something for themselves and others to enjoy. And let’s face it, with cooking and baking, practice really does make perfect!
- Play fun games together. As a family, rather than slump in front of yet another favourite Christmas film, why not play together? Play a fun, interactive game which demands the full attention of all participants like charades or the cereal packet game. The latter is where each participant must pick up a cereal box with their teeth/mouth without getting down on all fours to do so. Each round, a bit more of the packet is torn off, until there’s just a slither of a piece of cardboard laying on the floor, for the more flexible and ingenious to retrieve with one’s teeth! It’s hilarious and totally engaging, and helps all participants to admire the physical and mental flexibility of the others, regardless of age.
Try exploring MINDFULNESS with your children, and I’m sure that they might also teach you a thing or two about how to be mindful, too. Children can teach us so much if we pay attention to what they say and do. In this day and age of social media, and the dependency on television, electronic devices and computer games, isn’t it time we thought back to our childhoods and taught our children some of the simple things we gained great pleasure from? Teach your family how to be truly happy this Christmas – could you give them a greater gift?
Happy Christmas lovely WIBN ladies!
Clinical Hypnotherapist and NLP Coach
The Hitchin Hypnotherapy Practice