Finding a moment at Christmas
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Sian Maman BSc (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy MBACP
20th November, 20170 Comments
When you hear the word Christmas do you feel a warmth and excitement bubbling up deep inside you? If the answer is yes, the good news is Christmas is on its way. However, for many people Christmas has a more negative connotation.
Do any of these common Christmas stressors apply to you?
Relatives who don’t get on gathering together for the annual bout of tension and drama. All fuelled by excessive amounts of alcohol. Preparing the house for Christmas visitors. Critical guests such as in-laws or other relatives who expect everything to be done in a certain way.
Christmas parties that you would just rather avoid. Stores packed with jostling shoppers increasing your already frayed nerves. Finances spiralling out of control. Increasing demands on your time.
Issues of loss
The absence of loved ones can be particularly powerful at this time of year. Perhaps someone is away from home working in the armed forces or maybe someone is in prison. Perhaps a loved one has died. The wound of grief can feel especially raw at Christmas. Maybe someone is in hospital or a nursing home. The pain of divorce and relationship breakdowns are often felt more sharply at this time of year.
Could you use a couple of quick and simple mindfulness meditations to calm those frayed nerves?
1. Positive affirmation – This can take less than a minute!
This exercise is designed to both calm the mind and encourage positive thinking about yourself.
Do you sometimes find yourself making self-depreciating comments? Comments such as “I’m so stupid”, “I’m really clumsy” or “No-one likes me”. They may seem like harmless comments but if you continually say negative things to yourself then these statements or introjects can become deeply ingrained. It may become difficult to believe anything positive about yourself. It can even become hard to receive a genuine compliment from someone. This positive affirmation exercise is about saying something kind to yourself. It starts with finding a positive statement about yourself such as “I am a good listener”, “I am a kind person” or “I am loveable”. Can you think of something positive to say about yourself?
Start the exercise with a deep slow breath in through the nose then exhale slowly through the mouth. Now think of the affirmation statement you have chosen. As you breath in a second time, say the positive affirmation clearly in your head. Breath out. Repeat the breath and affirmation three times. If you are not used to taking deep breaths, they can cause you to feel a little light headed at first so only do three or four breaths. This short simple exercise is very discreet and can be done in a public place without anyone knowing what you are doing. If you are able to take a few moments alone, then it can be an even more calming experience. You could even try it sitting on the toilet!
2. The five senses
This exercise will use your five senses to remain in the present moment and calm your mind.
Start with your sight. Look around you and notice what you can see. Tell yourself either in your head or out aloud, all the different things that you can see. Then move on to your hearing. What sounds can you hear? If you can close your eyes, then try it and see what a difference it can make to your other senses. Next is your sense of touch. What can you feel against your skin? Move on to your sense of smell. Can you smell anything? Finally, your sense of taste. Can you taste anything in your mouth? If you have something to eat or drink nearby, try taking a small mouthful and slowly savouring the flavours. This exercise can be done quickly in a couple of minutes or if you have time you could linger over it a little longer.
Whatever Christmas means to you, remember to be kind to yourself. Taking a few moments of your day to slow down and notice the moment, can help to calm both your body and your mind.
About the author
Sian is a counsellor and psychotherapist working within her own private practice and also within a counselling agency in Nottinghamshire. Her specialities include anxiety, panic attacks, depression and loss.
She has a BSc (hons) in counselling and psychotherapy and a BSc (hons) in healthcare studies.
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