Mind and Body

Three ways to stay mindful during the festive season

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Let’s be real, during the festive season we can all feel like we are unraveling from time to time. There are pre-Christmas and NYE work deadlines, school is finishing up, there is financial pressure and parties to organise.  There are also RSVPs to fit in and attend, and everybody wants to fit in a Christmas drink before the big day from your nearest and dearest to those friends you’ve barely seen in a year. While it is a wonderful time of year to tie up loose ends and let your hair down, there is no need to feel like you’re losing control over your physical and emotional well-being. We all feel the pressure! Here are some simple ways to not only survive but thrive this festive season.

Self Care

Make balance your friend. It is so easy to get caught up in the partying (#prawnrolls #chandon), but prioritise eating well whenever you can and stay hydrated. Not just for your physical health but for your mental health too; too much of a good thing can leave you feeling physically exhausted and therefore, emotionally depleted and ungrounded. Enjoy the beauty of sharing food and drink with the ones you love and don’t be hard on yourself if you do happen to over do it! Every moment is a new beginning. If you can, fit in some movement such as yoga (if you can’t get to a class there are great options online) or some walking. Moving around will help to burn off any excess stress and help with falling asleep at night (sleep in December sounds like a novel concept but good to try to get 6-8 hours if possible so you recharge properly). Most importantly, keep some precious moments for yourself during this busy time. Try not to over-commit and don’t be afraid to say no to things if you just don’t think you can go through with it or if it will negatively affect your mental health, i.e. you’re already exhausted or you have social burnout. Meditation apps such as insight and head-space are excellent ways to tune into yourself and give yourself some much needed emotional space and mental reprieve.

Shift the perspective of Christmas

During any time of emotional and physical stress it is easy to lose perspective and the bigger picture. Throw in the financial stress of buying gifts (not to mention the ‘what to buy?’ thoughts late at night) and the impossible task of attending more social events in the space of a month than you’ve attended in the other 11 months of the year combined.  Lets also add any general “didn’t the year just get started?” feels and you’re on the fast train to Losing Sight Of It All. Well, I say… take the pressure off! Big time. Remember: it is just another time of year, and it just happens to be a season of giving and reflection. Find non-financial ways to give to others. Remember what this time of year is all about. Donate what you can such as food or clothes or children’s toys to organisations such as the Salvation Army or St. Kilda Mum’s. Find out where you can make a small difference in your neighbourhood and get involved in some volunteering. And yes, you can fit it in. This will take the pressure and focus off you and your life but will also just make a massive and precious difference to other people who really need the help. It is so easy to be easily consumed by the materialism and stereotype of Christmas, so giving a little will reinforce gratitude.

Being present with family

Hands up who hasn’t fought back tears at Christmas lunch just from the sheer overwhelm of it all? Responsibilities are a plenty and it’s easy to be extra sensitive to the old family habits.
We don’t always choose our family but we can certainly choose how we react to any conflict. If the old family ways start to get to you (opinions on how you should be living your life or old family resentments) try your hardest to be mindful in the moment. Have a plan if you know you’re likely to get upset or react. Check your expectations and be aware of your triggers before you arrive. If there is conflict or something happens that upsets you, breathe. Deeply. Be present. Be calm. Be grounded. Let it go. Forget about being reactive, respond calmly. Take 5 in the bathroom and do a mini meditation from an app. And see it for what it is. A bunch of different people with conflicting personalities with heaps of baggage that come together at the most stressful and emotional time of year. We won’t always like what a family member has to say and we all have different views. You can always make alternate plans for Christmas, like choosing to not stay for a 7-hour lunch but instead doing a 3-hour or a breakfast or whatever else seems appropriate; or having plans to be elsewhere (such as drinks with a friend or neighbour that afternoon or volunteering down the road).

Always remember, you have the right to implement boundaries and re-frame the day to suit your emotional needs and overall well-being.

with love,

Ali xx


Alice is a counsellor, psychotherapist and mediation teacher. She loves art history, fashion and songwriting. She will never get over Patrick dying on Offspring.