Have Yourself a Mindfully Merry Christmas

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It's a challenge to arrive at a state of calm during the Christmas season. Apart from the mad dash to find the perfect gift for every person on your list, there's also all that merrymaking with a cornucopia of food and drinks and all the get-togethers with family and friends which are as rife with joy as strife. Being more mindful not only of what you're doing but also of everything else happening around you may just be the key to a more meaningful and merry Christmas. Mindfulness is about being present in each and every moment. It's about paying full whole-hearted attention, taking note of events as they unfold without judgement or criticism but rather with gratitude and openness. When we are more mindful, we are able to see the bigger picture, giving us the opportunity to evaluate habits and patterns and change them for the better.

So how does one have a mindfully merry little Christmas? Here are some suggestions:

Change your mindset. First off, we need to revamp our mindset. Instead of looking at Christmas as an event which we need to survive, let's view it as a once-a-year occasion which we must savor. Try it! You'll see that by making this seemingly simple change, you're already on your way to a more blissful, stress-free Christmas.

Plan ahead. We all know that planning ahead will make our lives infinitely easier, but for one reason or another, we sometimes forget to do it. This season, plan to plan. Give yourself more than enough time to decorate your home, shop for gifts, prepare the Noche Buena table, and get yourself and your family ready for the parties you're attending. Doing everything last minute will only leave you dazed and frazzled.

Enjoy every errand. If you allot ample time for your tasks, you won't feel hurried or rushed. Take your time as you go about your Christmas tasks. If you feel tired, rest. If you're out shopping, grab a cup of coffee after getting a specific number of gifts.

Share the load. Christmas is all about sharing, including holiday tasks and errands. Ask yourself why you've assigned yourself all these tasks. Is it because you don't trust other family members to do so? Or is it because you're just enjoying yourself too much? If it's the former, then it's time to have faith in your husband and your children. If it's the latter, then realize that you are depriving your loved ones of the opportunity to really get into the spirit of Christmas. For example, a part of the holidays is about choosing gifts for loved ones. If you have your kids' feedback on what to give their dad, the gift will even be more meaningful. It's also about putting up the decorations and making holiday food, and how happy would the kids be if they can take part in decorating the tree or making Christmas cookies; never mind if the results are less than perfect. After all, they were made with love.

Be more discriminate of how you spend your time. Time is your most valuable resource, so be more thoughtful on how you use it. For example, you need not accept every invitation that comes your way. Attend only those which have real meaning to you. Keep in mind that the time you spend in these parties means time spent away from your family, time not spent on taking care of yourself, or time not spent enjoying other activities. A balance must be achieved.

Accept family quirks and idiosyncracies. Holiday tiffs are likely to happen during family gatherings. When we put together a bunch of people with different temperaments and expectations under one roof, sparks are bound to fly. Accept the fact that you can't change the way your parents behave or how your relatives get or not get along with each other. We can't all be happy all the time, and that's okay. Accept your disappointment and move on. Don't lose sight of the big picture.

Allot downtime both for you and your family. Preparing and attending parties and other events can be tiring so you need to give yourself time to recuperate. If you overschedule, you'll only find yourself too tired and cranky from enjoying every occasion. Take a nap. Go out for a walk. Have a good, long bath. Get a massage. Read a book. This goes for the kids and hubby as well!

Share the mindfulness spirit with your family. Because of the many goings-on around this season, your family may not be able to appreciate everything happening around them. Transform everyday moments into mindful moments. When you're driving through Ayala, for example, point out all the lights to your kids. Ask them to identify the figures. If you happen to chance upona belen at the mall, take the opportunity to talk about the nativity story. It's also a good idea to explain the origins of Christmas traditions so that your children will appreciate them more.

Take care of yourself. Christmas is all about giving, and that includes you giving back to yourself. Don't forget your self-care routines whether it's going out for a run, practicing calligraphy, or watching a movie. Keeping a journal is one way of taking care of yourself as it allows you to reflect on the events of the day, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of things. Going on a retreat is another way of experiencing the spirit of the season as you make a further journey inwards.

Give thanks. Because the season is about sharing gifts, it's too easy to take things for granted. Don't! Be grateful for gifts big and small. As an exercise, write down five things you are grateful for the day every night.

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Appreciate the magic of Christmas. Yes, this season is truly wonderful. The streets are lined with twinkling lights, houses are dressed up in lovely décor, and there are an assortment of activities designed to inspire awe and wonder. Take it all in. If you have beloved traditions, continue them in your own family. Sing Christmas carols together. Go around your neighborhood and delight in the decorations. Share the joy of giving with the less fortunate. Be the spirit of Christmas!

Images courtesy of cescassawin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net