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Keep Calm at ChristmasAt this time of year it’s easy to become overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to be that way, you can keep calm this Christmas. I’m not talking about ensuring you have a military style action plan in place to cope with the demands that are surely coming. What I’m talking about is being aware that you have choices and control. That your way of thinking and seeing will impact on how you manage, and that we can learn to hold unto a sense of peace and calm that can withstand external forces.

1. Practice Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is the easy way to gently let go of stress and be in the moment. Best of all, once you understand the basic principles and tools it’s easy to incorporate into your everyday life. The practice of mindfulness increases your appreciation of those magic moments in each day that might otherwise be lost and helps keep a sense of calm and perspective. If you’re unfamiliar with mindfulness there are plenty of videos available online, as well as local courses (introductory ones are often offered for free). You can also enter our free book giveaway this month to win Dr Patrizia Collards ‘The Little Book of Mindfulness’.

2. Watch your words:

We often underestimate the power of our words to affect our behaviour and feelings. If you’re already expecting and describing a situation as difficult, irritating or stressful, invariably it will be. Our experiences can be transformed by changing the vocabulary we habitually use. It convinces our mind to approach situations differently, with positive words creating a more favourable outcome for ourselves and others.  This change isn’t going to take place overnight but you can start by being more aware of what you’re saying and then make a decision to try and cut out just one negative word. (The practice of mindfulness will help in raising your awareness) Be aware that at this time of year it’s considered normal to be stressed! So expect lots of people to be using this word, it’s probably a good one to try and stop using during this season.

3. Don’t juggle – ask for help:

This is a metaphor I often hear female clients use to describe their approach to life. Juggling work, family, friends and everything in-between. Known for our prowess at multi-tasking (micro-juggling) women feel they have to be able to skilfully manage many responsibilities and tasks at once…seamlessly. You don’t have to, if you want to keep calm this Christmas you can ask for help. Sometimes people don’t offer because they think you don’t need it, you look so in control. Other times they don’t want to, but ask them anyway, and if they won’t help then consider not doing it. If you like to be in charge and have exacting standards, no-one can do it as good as you, then this may be preventing you seeking help. Ask yourself, is that you?

4. Be kind to yourself:

By this I mean don’t feel bad about or blame yourself for things you haven’t done, or feel you could do better. There’s often a weight of expectation for things to be ‘perfect’ at Christmas. Usually with little basis in reality but formed from glossy magazines and TV ads whose sole purpose is to get you to part with your money – so I wouldn’t trust them anyway. Learn to accept when it’s good enough and definitely don’t compare yourself to others. Set your own standards, don’t use anyone else’s; not your parents, your kids, your in-laws, friends or Marks and Spencers.  Don’t lose sight of what you really want for yourself and your family this Christmas. Finally give yourself permission to stop and enjoy some time just for you, doing what you want.

5. Visualisation:

Just as with the words, visualisation, a technique involving focusing on positive mental images, can transform your experiences. There are two techniques you can use to help you keep calm this Christmas. Firstly choose an image (real or imagined) of something that makes you feel calm. When you feel those stress levels rising, visualise this image. If you use a real one, once you’ve seen it it’s easy to recall, even when not to hand. Secondly, practice visualising yourself responding calmly to a situation where you would normally feel stressed. If that situation arises you’ll have pre-programmed yourself to response calmly. You can off course combine these two methods. The beauty of visualisation, is that like mindfulness, it’s easy to incorporate into your everyday.

To make you smile, here’s visualisation at work:
Anger management with Phillip the Kitten: The Mighty Boosh

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