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Have yourself a mindful little Christmas

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Ciaran Ivanovic, the founder of Mindful Kids, joins us again on Maggie & Rose to share her tips to help support a happy and peaceful Christmas for you and your family:

"Christmas can be the most wonderful time of year yet it can also be one of the most stressful times as we juggle keeping our kids happy with shopping decisions, deadlines and the pressure of having to please everyone. This year due to the pandemic we have the added strain of keeping everyone safe and healthy as well as coping with the disappointment of not seeing everyone we would usually see freely during the Christmas period, be it grandparents, friends or other family members.

One effective way of staying grounded and calm through challenging times like these is by practicing mindfulness. By weaving a few mindful moments in to your daily life you will be supporting your own mental well-being as well as those who practice with you. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Breathing is as simple as ABC...

Begin your day with my ABC breathing (also known as 3 minute breathing) to ground yourself, boost your mood and bring your attention to the present moment (away from past thoughts or future worries). Each step only takes one minute so this practice will appeal to even the busiest of parents. Here’s how it’s done:

A: Awareness of how you’re feeling right now

Perhaps you're feeling tense and tired, or loose and relaxed. Notice any sensations in your body (warmth, coolness, tingling hands…). Simply observe and accept your feelings just as they are.

B: Breathing

Focus your attention on your in-breath and out-breath. Each time your mind wanders gently bring it back to the breath.

C: Cloud

Expand your awareness of breath to your whole body. As you breathe in, imagine floating up on a cloud and as you breathe out imagine sinking down in to the cloud letting everything go.

Try not to be too hard on yourself. Some days you might feel like you’ve achieved little, but if you take a moment to focus on the things that you have managed to do, you’ll find that you’ve actually achieved a lot (and yes - unstacking the dishwasher and feeding yourself and the kids absolutely counts!)

Take just one mindful minute

With eyes closed, focus on the sounds around you for one minute. What can you hear? Really listen….perhaps the sound of a clock ticking, passing traffic, birdsong, people talking….This practice is a fantastic way of bringing your attention to the present moment, taking your mind away from anything that is causing you stress or worry. Try practicing this at different times throughout the day.

Get outdoors!

Being in nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol and makes us feel happier as we reconnect with ourselves and nature. Build a den with your kids, climb a tree, cloud watch…..engage with your senses to appreciate the natural world around you (what can you see/smell/touch/hear?).

TOP TIP: if you find that your mind is wandering all over the place and you’re finding it hard to be present, try focusing on your breathing as you walk - breathe in for five counts as you take five slow strides, and breathe out for five counts with the next five strides. Keep going until your mind is clear and back to the present moment.

Breathe on...

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