Updated: Dec 19, 2018
So I'm sitting at home with a well-earned cuppa, the twinkly lights of my Christmas tree gently kissing the edges of my laptop as I type, a spicy-scented tea light on the go as well as the sweet promise of a whole evening to myself hanging in the air.
But don't be fooled. Although christmas may be a hop, skip and a jump away, somebody clearly forgot to tell my Lads there is supposed to be peace to all mankind. Yes. My heart is still pounding recklessly from the post-Fortnite apocalypse that recently exploded in my living room. And yes, there is still more than a smudge of the dramatically rejected spaghetti bolognese on the kitchen tiles (my own effing fault for putting PEAS in it). But I am here now. In this moment. With my tea light, with my laptop, both children successfully deposited into their beds. For now, at least.
If you think about it, Christmas is just one big fantastic metaphor for our lives, isn't it? I mean we're supposed to have it all glossy and shiny looking, things organised effortlessly, relationships thriving beautifully when in reality it's a huge glorious mess. And I really do mean glorious. If there's one thing that mindfulness has taught me over the years, it's that mess is something to be revelled in. It's interesting, and it's evocative and it never, ever lasts so we may as well jump right in. And yes, this is coming from a reformed control freak.
So here are a few tips that might help you find the glory in the utter shambles your Christmas is likely to become:
1.) EXPECT NOTHING
And I'm not just talking about presents. How much time and energy do you spend on expecting other people to do, say or behave in a certain way? This is rampant more than ever at Christmas and it's quite frankly exhausting. Drop the expectations - just revel in the unexpectedness of your loved ones and even of yourself. You. Need. A. Break.
2.) SPURN SOCIAL MEDIA
Now I love a Facebook scroll as much as the next person, but if you're lucky enough to have your loved ones or anyone at all around you at Christmas time then do them the honour of some eye contact and heartfelt conversation. It's far superior to checking out the squillions of presents somebody else bought their sprogs and come on, a game of charades never hurt anyone, now did it? (please don't Google that, cos bets on I'm wrong)
3.) LOVE YOUR BANK BALANCE
In mindfulness we take notice of what we're saying, doing and feeling in any given moment and I think that's something we should do every time we spend our hard-earned cash. It is SCARILY easy to spend money these days - the majority of my Christmas shopping was done waiting in the car for my kids to come out of school with nought but a mobile phone at my disposal. I'm going to email Martin Lewis and tell him my idea for a mindful breathing app at the checkout of every online store. Can you imagine it? Deep breaths before every transaction, a body scan before we click 'Buy It Now', a visualisation of the beating heart of our overdraft? It could change EVERYTHING.
4.) ENJOY YOUR FOOD
This one might sound obvious but I'm not talking about eating everything in sight as appears to have become festive custom. I'm talking about a bit of consciousness when we eat. What's the effing point in eating a family-sized bar of Galaxy (without the family, obvz) if you're not going to savour every single morsel? I am speaking as a certified EXPERT in mindful biscuit eating (is there any other way?) so, believe me . . . slow down . . . taste . . . notice . . . savour . . . enjoy. And Bingo! You've got yourself a merry little Christmas.
5.) LEARN FROM THE KIDS
Because they really are the best teachers. Not necessarily in their persistently tried-and-tested Fortnite strategies, or their alarming ability to burp on demand, but in their unwavering curiosity about the world. Open your eyes. Look around. Feel the cold snap on your cheeks as you traipse out to empty the recycling; notice the fairy-light glow on your un-hoovered carpet; sniff your child's head when they finally fall asleep on Christmas eve. It's all there. For you.
6.) BE MOODY
I'd just like to point out that just because it is a particular date on the calendar that there is absolutely NO REASON that you must be in a good mood on Christmas day. We're all dealing with a whole heap of shit all of the time and putting pressure on ourselves to feel a certain way is just going to make things worse. Therefore be as moody as you damn well please. Chances are, if you let it out of your system, it's going to clear the way for something nicer.
7.) BE YOU
There is no time like Christmas for a bit of razzle dazzle but my advice is to leave that for the glitzy jumpers. You? You just need to be good old you. Genuine. Real. Authentic. Don't be afraid to bow out of things that are clearly not joyful and jump unapologetically into the things that are. Be messy, be disorganised, be true and you'll find that people around you are more likely to do the same.
I had to throw this one in at the end. Breathing is something we usually only notice when we're short of it like when we're scared, stressed or physically exhausted. But potentially, the best festive cocktail you're likely to experience this Christmas is the hormonal euphoria you'll get from some well-timed deep breaths. Honest. Whether they're out in the snow-drenched hills, in the middle of a booze-filled kitchen, or slobbed out in front of the telly. If you do nothing else during your festive capers . . . . breathe.
I really do wish you all the most wonderful Christmas and New Year . . . but more than that . . . I wish you some joy in the mess, some bliss in the chaos, some glee in the clutter. And I wish you this always.
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P.P.S. If you fancy a dip into mindfulness, then you can find my FREE meditations on You Tube - suitable for children and adults!