MBSR strategies to help you stay calm this festive season Aisling Larkin 21 days of wellness series

MBSR Tools For Managing Stress This Festive Season

 I firmly believe all parents should be given the week before Christmas off ! 

School play, choir practice, mass, carol singing, Christmas jumper day, teacher presents, swim teacher presents, music teacher presents, coaches gifts, shopping, grocery shopping, the last minutes forgotten list items shopping, the frantic finding of the stuff that never arrived from the Black Friday online shopping spree shopping. The meet ups, the office parties, the lunches, the brunches…. How, how are we meant to fit in all in, wrap all the presents, sleep and keep them all alive and in good feetle before the big day and not crack under the stress !!!!!!! 

Ok, here are some small things that might help as you frantically pace up and down the drive way fearfully waiting for the postman, or as you sit in yet another traffic jam, or as you patiently smile and wait in the hot and packed shops…. here is what you are going to do ! 

I caveat this with, I am not just making this stuff up, back in 2018  when few were taking about mindfulness really, I trained with the a group in the states to become a certified MBSR coach. MBSR stands for Mindful Based Stress Reduction. 

OK 

  1. Stop Saying Yes to everything. You can only be in so many places at once. If they miss the last training session on Tuesday then so be it. If you can’t make the monthly coffee meet-up, then so be it. Prioritise, do the important stuff and no one will even notice you weren’t as most of the other stuff anyway. Remember this fateful sentence, hold on to it deeply, say if truthfully ” AND THAT”S OK”. It is one of THE most powerful tools I have learned over the last 5 years. 
  2. Financial Stress is a big one. I listen to Conor Pope a lot on the Six O’Clock and he talks alot of sense. Stay away from the shops from about 23rd onwards. It is those last minute panic purchases, those excessive bits and bobs, the gifts that no one really needs anyway. They are the ones that can drive you over budget. Pause, take a breath, ask yourself do you really need it, do they really need it ? Put it down, walk away and I bet in reality they will all be fine without it. 
  3. Delgate. Delegate, delegate, delegate !!! You are only one human. What are the bloody rest of them doing? Create a group, create a list, tell everyone you are all in this together, you are a team and if you all want to have a nice day, then buck up folks, take some responsibility and get stuff done. I caveat this with … they will rarely do it as good  or how you would actually want it, so suck it up. It won’t be the perfect you think you would have done in your head … and guess what “AND THATS OK” !     (trust me, it will get in on you) 
  4. Values. Take a minute and figure out what are your values for the festive season. Then bring in those around you and get them to figure out what there’s are too. Be guided by your values, let these values dictate the schedule and the tone and the vibe of the next week. My values for Christmas 2023.. Family, fun, togetherness and recharge. Anything that does not align with that, does not happen. The clarity and freedom you get from this process is insanely  beneficial. 
  5. Move you body. Move your energy, move your mood! We want to enjoy these days and to do that we need those mood-boosting chemicals and neurotransmitters flowing through our body. Moving our body gives us head space, gives us time, helps with digestion, energises us and provides our body with serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins to help us feel positive. Put on the runners, walk, run, cycle, stretch. Just move. 
  6. Create space and time for emotions. Christmas is a very emotional time. It makes the end of the year, the brings up feelings of loss, grief and regret. Alcohol can be a trigger or catalyst for amplifying these emotions, so if alcohol does not serve you well, concerning your emotions, then skip it.It is not worth it.  A great technique I tach my clients all the time is RAINS. Emotions will appear at the most random and inopportune times so rather than suppress them or ignore them. Take a moment, create some space and sit with the emotion for a few moments. This causes discomfort but it is not TOO difficult that you cannot cope. It is hard, but not TOO hard. Feel the emotion. RAIN is the coping tool to get you in and out the emotion and the moment. The enter in, begin with R. Recognise –  you are feeling something, you are in a moment. A for Allow. Allow the emotion to be there. Invite it in and get ready to sit with it. I for Investigate . Investigate this emotion. ask yourself what is it? Does it look like anger but really its grief?  Does it look like sadness but really its guilt? Investigate the emotion with a kindness and self compassion and self awareness. N is for non-identity. You are not this emotion. You are not a being made of 100% sadness or 100% grief or shame or guilt. You are you. The is a emotion that is passing through, this moment will pass. Remember “And This Too Shall Pass”. 
  7. Gratitude . Every single morning when you feet touch the ground be grateful for all that you have. Be grateful for the your little ones, and your big ones and your partner, and your family and your friends and your work colleagues and your neighbours. And the postman and the shop assistant and the lollipop lady and everyone else who makes your world turn. Be grateful for the roof over your head, the heat in your home, the gifts, the time off, the break, the rest. Be grateful for it all. 
  8. Perspective  –  if God forbid you are struggling with gratitude then go a level deeper –  go to perspective. Look around you, what all that is happening in the world and consider how lucky you are for all that you have. 
  9. Lastly, just take a breath. Take a breath, create some space in your mind and in your heart, consider your thoughts and actions and do the best you can do. 
  10. Remember, And That’s OK.
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