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The Most Stressful Things About Christmas (And How Meditation Can Help!)

most stressful things about christmas

 

As it does every year, December has raced past in a most inconsiderate manner. All those preparatory days have gone, and Christmas is waiting excitedly around the corner to rugby tackle us into a world of festive joviality and endless cheese boards. It goes without saying that Christmas is wonderful, but these last few days before it truly gets underway can feel a little stressful at times, and many of us still have a to-do list as long as our arm.

Of course, there will be those of you who graduated with honours from the University of Organisational Wizardry and had everything sorted for Christmas sometime in August last year – but others will be staring down the barrel of last minute shopping and general festive panic. So what do you do when faced with the twelve most stressful things about Christmas? What even are the most stressful things? Look no further than this list for the answers!

There. Are. People. Everywhere.

Usually when you go to the shops there is a normal amount of people in them, but not at Christmastime – then shops are about 98% people, and it’s a nightmare. Oxford Street on Christmas Eve resembles some kind of commercial Mordor, as thousands of people realise they’ve forgotten to get something nice for their sister-in-law and rush out in a tizz and bother. All this is very stressful!

Coping with crowds and not letting things bother you is something which gets easier as we meditate and our stress response isn’t triggered so easily. Take twenty minutes out (perhaps in a coffee shop, or quiet corner at home) to meditate and you will find that you can breeze through the crowds without a hint of bother.

There’s No Time!

Argh how has this happened! There are sprouts to peel, presents to wrap and excitable children to herd into some semblance of order, and no time to do it in! Christmas is an inevitably busy time and every adult will have things to do, from tying up those last loose ends at work to planning a feast for the entire family.

Luckily, however, meditation makes us super efficient and very cool under pressure, so we can swashbuckle our way through that to-do list and defeat every task with aplomb!

Shopping Shopping Shopping

There are those lucky people who seem to be able to step into a shop, glance around and then pick out the most perfect thing within 20 seconds flat. Or even rarer, the virtuosos who can enter a supermarket at 2pm on December 23rd and whizz through collecting sprouts and mince pies without even breaking a sweat. For the rest of us, however, last-minute Christmas shopping is akin to being led by the Duke of Wellington into enemy cannon fire, except without the sense of camaraderie.

Unfortunately, no matter how unmaterialistic we are, Christmas tends to include an element of shopping – bad news for everyone who’d rather be pelted with haggis than step into a shopping centre. But with a meditation session, we can become far more quick-thinking and productive, getting everything we need in double-quick time.

Everyone Has Become A Much Angrier Version Of Themselves

By Christmas Eve, everyone and everything is delightful, wishing each other seasons greetings and being generally glorious. But in the days before the big day – perhaps at that moment when you find yourself eyeing people aggressively because they’ve grabbed the last stilton in Tescos – you realise that Christmas stress can make us pretty angry.

Meditation is a wonderful and soothing thing to do, which will stop any rising irritability and have us feeling much more like ourselves again. And when we feel happy and calm, the people around us start to feel happier and calmer too, and all that built-up frustration simply ebbs away.  

Suddenly I’m Popular!

Because humans are lovely sociable creatures, we all like to see each other around Christmas. But between work parties, family gatherings and trying to catch up with friends, things can get pretty busy! Whether it’s feeling overwhelmed by social anxiety, or something as simple as experiencing one too many hangovers, this isn’t always fun – and we can start to feel bogged down by it all.

By helping us see clearly and calmly, meditation makes any social scheduling stress much easier to deal with. It’s also a powerful way to ease our anxiety and grow our confidence, so any social nerves aren’t quite so much of a strain.  

Oh Wait, Maybe I’m Not  

We’re all so used to being rushed off our feet socialising at this time of year that, in those quiet moments when we are alone, we can feel quite lonely. This is especially true if, for whatever reason, we can’t see friends or family at Christmastime. The atmosphere and expectations of this season can make us keenly aware of any loneliness or disappointment we feel, especially as it seems as if everyone else is enjoying themselves.

Sadness around the festive season is common, especially as we get older and the nostalgia of Christmases past sharpens the ache of old griefs, and family dynamics change and evolve. Meditation is a comforting self-care practice that lets us acknowledge our feelings of sadness and loneliness without becoming overwhelmed by them.

It’s So Much Harder to Clean

There are decorations in every corner of the house, everything is in chaos, and the time and inclination to tidy up are simply non-existent. We have lots to do and little time to do it in, so getting stuck into the cleaning doesn’t seem all that appealing – even if your dirty laundry could fill the Grand Canyon and the carpet has become a scientifically fascinating ecosystem.

When all we want to do is collapse into a heap of tinsel, meditation provides a real boost to our energy levels and will kick-start our motivation to get everything done.

Why Is It So Cold and Dark Outside?

After many years, it’s become clear that having a white Christmas is about as likely as the Queen declaring a one-woman war with Finland, and it tends to be rather cloudy and rainy this time of year. Many of us are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, while many others simply don’t enjoy the cold and wet, and we can all start to feel a bit miserable during winter.

The hormonal imbalances which are exacerbated by lack of light are greatly reduced by regular meditation, helping us keep a sunny disposition all year round.

Driving, Flying, Catching the Train

Getting home for Christmas is the subject of lots of festive films and songs, and there’s a good reason for that. With our roads, train stations and airports subject to a mind-boggling hubbub at this time of year, even a simple journey can feel like an epic saga. Friday 21st in the busiest travel day of the year, and people are often subject to delays and cancellations which pretty much kills any festive joy they may have been feeling.

While circumstances like these are always going to be annoying, the fact that we can meditate anywhere means that we can find some rest even when we’re sitting in a hectic airport lounge – so we can get home for Christmas and into the embrace of our loved ones without threatening to explode with irritation on the way.

Words by Holly Ashby

This entry was posted in blog.

Calming Christmas Gift List for Meditation and Wellbeing

calming christmas gift list

 

To paraphrase the eternal words of Slade, IT’S (nearly) CHRISTMAS! Christmas is an excellent time of year, where everyone gets to sing about reindeers and indulge themselves in the manner of a slightly less restrained version of George IV. But unfortunately, drinking cream for breakfast and raucous carolling aren’t the whole story. We have responsibilities too at Christmas – and if there’s one thing that can make the festive season more stressful than attempting to ace a yodelling competition while soothing an angry ostrich, it’s buying gifts for our friends and loved ones.

Don’t get us wrong: when everything falls into place it can be lovely buying presents, warm in the knowledge that whoever will receive them is going to be bowled over by our thoughtfulness and impeccable taste. “I always knew they were a fabulous and also very attractive person” our friends will say to each other, nodding wisely as they admire their new toe-warmers. But what happens when you can’t find anything to buy and there are only a few days left until Christmas? That’s when the Yuletide nightmare begins.

Luckily, this list is here to provide you with last-minute present ideas – and not any old presents either! These are the most calming, meditative and wellbeing-boosting presents anyone could wish to receive. During the festive season, when our heart aches in anguish to see hours of careful wrapping ripped aside in seconds, and cooking the Christmas dinner becomes an arduous yet ultimately doomed task akin to Napolean invading Russia, we can all feel in need of a little pick-me-up.

So take a peek at our calming Christmas gift list for meditation and wellbeing, and help someone you know find some much-needed relaxation.

Himalayan Salt Lamp

https://www.glowhimalayan.co.uk/

We like salt, enjoy the Himalayas and absolutely LOVE lamps – so what could be better than an amalgamation of all three! As pretty as your favourite Hollywood starlet wearing a gown made of tinsel and as wholesome as a raft of avocados, this lovely gift comes with benefits galore – from providing a relaxing glow to its air purifying properties.

Some Fancy Teaware

Something like this!

 

 

Whether it’s a Matcha green tea set or a classy, calming blend from Whittards or Fortnum & Mason, giving someone more ways to stick on a brew is a guaranteed way to improve their life and lower their stress levels. Years of scientific research have proven that no one ever has been angry or upset while drinking tea (citation needed), so tea-themed Christmas gifts are always going to be a winner.

East by West

Jasmine Hemsley

http://www.jasminehemsley.com/read/

Jasmine Hemsley is a fantastically dressed wellness wizard, and East by West would be a wonderful addition to any bookshelf. This particular book is focused on the ancient art of Ayurveda; with plenty of advice on how to tailor your diet to your body type, simplifies the philosophy and practicalities behind eating to nourish, sustain and repair. What’s more, given the 140 delicious recipes, there’s the added bonus that you can drop heavy hints about popping round for dinner to whoever you give it to.

The Worry Box

Like this one

There’s quite a lot to worry about in the modern world – from scraping together the rent to puzzling over the exact meaning of covfefe – and having an outlet for all these worries can be a very helpful thing. There are lots of variations on the concept of the ‘worry box’, which allows people to write down their concerns and put them away, and they can make a brilliant gift for someone who needs to put a little bit of space between themselves and their worries.

 

Buddha Board

Take a look!

 

One of the less meditative aspects of painting is trying to make it look good. That disappointing moment when you realise you’ve not so much captured the beauty of your subject as crushed it in your clammy hands is enough to ruin any relaxing afternoon, so it can be useful to distance ourselves from this stress.

Buddha Boards are an awesome solution to this issue. A ceramic plate that you paint onto with water, your creations appear as black as ink for a few minutes before slowly fading away, giving you an endless opportunity to doodle and create – but with none of the pressure. As a medium where we can enjoy the process of painting rather than the result, a Buddha Board is the perfect meditative gift.

The Effortless Mind

Will Williams

Get your copy.

We can’t very well do a Christmas gift list without plugging our founder’s first book (let no one say we meditators aren’t PR-savvy), and it really is a must-have for anyone interested in meditation. Framed around the personal stories of people whose lives were transformed by meditation, this book explains exactly how the technique can help us become the best version of ourselves – and who doesn’t want that?

Ayurvedic tongue scraper

Learn about the benefits.

The words “tongue” and “scraper” may sit a little queasily together (we promise it’s not like anything from Saw), but if you have a loved one who is interested in wellness, they could really appreciate this gift. From promoting oral hygiene to enhancing our sense of taste, this daily ritual is both a form of self care and a traditional element of Ayurvedic practices – should someone you know happen to be into that kind of thing.

Tabletop Zen garden

Buy one here

Gardening isn’t all trowels and turf. For the Japanese, the Zen garden is all about simplicity and elegance – making it easy to replicate in miniature on your desktop. Therefore, you don’t have to be a Borrower to enjoy an implausibly tiny garden, and you’ll struggle to find a more relaxing bit of decor for your desk at work. Some come with candles, others with mini water features, and raking the stones into patterns or contemplating a nice pebble is a genuinely enjoyable way to while away a few idle minutes.

Singing bowls

Find some here.

Singing bowls come in many shapes, materials and sizes, and they have the enviable Beyoncé-esque quality of being beautiful to look at as well as to listen to. For spiritual types, singing bowls are credited with all sorts of mystical benefits, but for others they are a pleasant way to make soothing sounds that relax and unwind us.

Prices vary immensely for singing bowls, so they can be everything from a stocking filler to a not-so-subtle way of telling someone you intend to marry them. Whatever the price, however, they all make a brilliant and calming gift.

We hope this list has provided you with some Christmas inspiration. There’s not long to go now – we hope you have lots of fun counting down the days!

Words by Holly Ashby

This entry was posted in blog.

Getting Back to Basics: Simple Self Care for Tough Times

simple self care beeja meditation

 

It’s been wonderful to see, over the last few years, just how much self-care has become part of the conversation – in the media and beyond. For many of us, embracing the concept of self-care has been a vital part of tangible improvements in our lives, as we are better able to manage everything from daily stress to chronic conditions.

However, as self-care entered the common lexicon, the concept naturally evolved to something more complicated and aspirational than perhaps first intended. Beautiful online imagery and the consumer culture connected to self-care can make the concept appear dreamy and far away (and even out of our price range), rather than something that’s achievable for everyone.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with aspiration or inspiration – and a bit of retail therapy, a trip to the hairdressers or other consumer acts can fall under the umbrella of self-care. However, at its heart, self-care is about uncomplicated actions that protect your health and wellbeing, and this is hugely important when life becomes harder than usual.  

Getting back to basics with simple self care can make a huge difference when it feels like everything is going wrong, and is vital in making sure you can through to the other side as unscathed and ready to move on as possible.  

Why we need self-care

For a long time, we’ve been taught that success comes with self-sacrifice, that the person who does the longest hours will reap the biggest rewards. But as it became clear that mental health issues were rising, and that often the only thing we were achieving was stress and burnout, we became increasingly aware of the hazards that are inherent to these “you win or you lose” attitudes.

It’s unfortunate that this overly self-sacrificing, burn-the-candle-at-both-ends culture has dominated our working and personal lives for such a long time. While being dynamic, ambitious and hardworking is all laudable, there has to be a balance in life. Without balance, this unforgiving lifestyle can be overwhelming, especially when combined with our modern 24/7, non-stop schedule.

All this is at least partly responsible for our lack of happiness and fulfilment, and the very real impact this is having on our mental health. For those with pre-existing mental issues, chronic illnesses, a loved one they have to care for, or a thousand other pressures, it’s even harder.

Simple Self-Care Techniques

It’s often said that advice regarding self-care can be a little unrealistic – with spa days or salon trips barely accessible for lots of people and big lifestyle changes completely infeasible. This is why simple self-care isn’t about a lifestyle overhaul – becoming yet another thing to feel guilty about not doing – it’s essential maintenance to keep up health and happiness when we need it most.

There are realities in life we just can’t avoid. For example, you are likely to sacrifice time spent “me-time” if your kids are particularly demanding that day, you may have a partner who suffers from depression or anxiety and often have to cancel plans (like relaxing over a coffee with friends) to provide emotional support. We don’t always have the capacity to look after ourselves coherently, which is why it’s important to fit self-care into life as it is, rather than an idealised time where everything falls into place.

So for the times when money’s tight, time is short and you just don’t have the energy, here are some simple self-care tips that should make big difference to how you feel without too much expense or effort.

Minimise comparisons.

Life is invariably complicated and stress can affect anyone, but circumstances can make things particularly difficult at certain times. It isn’t always possible to be our best selves, or to find time to really give ourselves the time and care we need, and comparing how well we’re doing with other people in these moments is unhelpful.  

For example, looking after a new baby is always hard, but it will probably feel a lot harder it also coincides with having no money, a relationship breakdown, or flare-up of mental illness. The people who seem to breeze through, looking fantastic and barely ruffled, might be having a completely different  – in other terms, easier – experience to you, and they may even be secretly struggling.

These are the times when we need to put aside how everyone else may or may not be doing and congratulate ourselves on simply making it through the day. Giving yourself a break from self-criticism and comparison during low points in life (and we all experience them) is really important.

Recognise the things, people and activities that boost your mood.

Even when we’re super busy or experiencing a rough patch, there’s always little moments of calm or happiness in life. For instance, pets can be a real mood-booster – taking the dog for a walk or having your cat fall asleep in your lap may be a highlight in even difficult days. Alternatively, your highlights may be grabbing a latte from your favourite coffee shop before work or catching up with a good book during your lunch break.

Taking these moments and focusing on them – trying to maximise the happy times if you can – can make things feel a little less bleak, and doesn’t involve the extra pressure of trying to allocate more time or money to something new. If there are any other times during the day that you can commit to these happy-making activities, you can bring more positivity into your life.

Recognise what’s adding unnecessary stress.

There are lots of things that may be creating unnecessary stress. For example, you may leave your work email notifications on, forcing you to think about your professional life when you could be relaxing. Or it might be that you have a good friend who is more demanding than you can always cope with. Regular habits may ignite a flicker of happiness or comfort, such as smoking or ordering takeaway pizza just that little bit too often, only to be followed by guilt and stress.

When times are tough, stepping back a little can make a huge difference to our peace of mind. In the example of an overbearing friend, it’s ok to set some boundaries (such as turning off your phone in the evenings) while still being a good mate – you can just explain you won’t be available as often because need a little me-time. The same applies to work. If it’s become an unspoken expectation that you monitor your emails outside of work hours, you can make it clear that there are times when you turn off your phone and won’t be contactable.

The bad habits which make us feel guilty are also pretty easy to identify. It may be hard during a rough patch to stop doing them (you might simply lack the motivation if it’s all being spent elsewhere) so it’s probably more helpful in the short term to stop telling yourself off and set the long-term goal of cutting down or giving up.   

Stick to a digital detox

As we’ve already mentioned, turning off your phone can be an important way to set boundaries at work, but it can also be invaluable when it comes to protecting mental wellbeing. While there are times in the modern world where we have to have our phone on, (for example, if it’s how your child’s school would get in touch with you during an emergency) but we have developed an expectation – both for ourselves and others – of constant social availability which is both unreasonable and impractical.

Sometimes, it’s OK to be out of the loop for a little bit. That WhatsApp conversation that jingles every 30 seconds, those social media updates which provide a constant scroll of content – we can switch off from them and spend more time in the moment. It doesn’t matter if we leave a message unread for an hour or two and removing this pressure to be constantly socially “on” can be a really powerful form of self-care.

Make small but steady changes

Sometimes, the only realistic option is to keep your head above water and wait for the storm to pass, but you can still do small things to help yourself. When you are really struggling, it’s the little things that count, and you can take baby steps in creating a life where stress becomes a little less overwhelming. Meditation is a wonderful form of self-care that’s easy and accessible, and will help you cope with stress better in future.

At the most basic level, simply finding time for the tiniest of actions which remind you that you still matter – such as spending an extra 5 minutes brushing your hair, or picking out your favourite pair of shoes, or cooking yourself a nice meal – can give you the small boost you need to get through the day. When times are tough, self-care can be as simple as you need it to be. 

We are always happy to chat if you want to discuss how meditation can help you. Get in touch whenever you need

Words by Holly Ashby

This entry was posted in blog.