Imagine, it’s a week before Christmas and you’ve just realised that you’ve been so flat out at work and not had time to present shop or even think about what you’ll cook the family for Christmas lunch.
You’ve been attending so many engagements with friends and colleagues that you’re actually feeling exhausted and your exercise regime has fallen by the way side.
For many people, Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, but sometimes it can be more tiring and stressful than anticipated.
A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association reported that compared to other times of the year, 44% of women and 31% of men felt more stressed during the holiday period.
It’s too easy to get caught up over-indulging or rushing around for gifts; planning and preparing last minute cleaning and cooking.
Forced family functions can also be overwhelming and overly emotional, so much so, that we end up missing the real magic of the season.
So, for this Christmas, make sure that you can fully enjoy the festive period by giving the best present for both you and loved ones – give the gift of being present– otherwise known as mindfulness.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a concept that stems from Buddhist meditation principles which has been around for a very, very long time.
In modern day terms however, it is a scientiﬁc approach to acceptance and inner peace, which has been extensively studied by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Interestingly, according to the 2018 Swisse Wellness Survey , only 29% of Australians know a fair bit about it.
So what exactly is, mindfulness?
One definition of mindfulness from www.mindful.org is that
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Some benefits of mindfulness include –
- Increased concentration
- Increase relaxation
- Increased productiveness
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved self-awareness and well-being
- And it can help people to deal with tough times.
How Do I Do Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is not hard – don’t think of it as having to sit and meditate for an hour. There are many ways that one can practice mindfulness – for example –
- By just concentrating on your breath
- Listening to music
- Keeping a daily gratitude journal
- Engaging in yoga or other more active sports like tennis or golf (I like to call this active meditation!)
To me, mindfulness is all about focusing on what’s going on around you right here, right now.
For example, it can be as simple as when you brush your teeth. In the few minutes that you are cleaning your pearly whites, become aware of how the toothpaste feels in your mouth, how you’re breathing and what emotions or thoughts pass through your body. Take the opportunity to really tune into yourself. That’s it!
www.Reachout.com suggests the following tips to help with practising mindfulness –
- Focus on the present moment and don’t fixate on things that may have happened in the past or might occur in the future
- Try not to be judgemental about anything you notice – ie. Don’t label things as good or bad. It’s about being accepting of thoughts and feelings and being aware of our surrounds.
- Here are some other suggestions on how to practise mindfulness without meditating.
Other great resources to help cultivate mindfulness are apps such as
So How Does This Help Me?
Applying the concept of mindfulness into everyday life is easy. Everyone and anyone can do it. It doesn’t require you to change your habits or what you do on a daily basis.
Think of it more as a way of life – when you bring awareness into your daily activities. You may find that you can relax more and enjoy the process, rather than just do things on automatic or worse, by being reactive to situations.
Another benefit of including mindfulness into your day is seeing how much more connected you can be with those around you.
Have you ever been guilty of only half listening to your partner or friend as you find yourself thinking about what happened at work that made you so mad at a colleague? Or have you been out with friends and everyone is sitting there not talking to each other but instead, uploading pictures of food on Instagram or Facebook?
When we practise mindfulness with others, we tend to become better listeners. This means that we can become more empathetic and kind and caring towards others. Pausing before letting all your thoughts tumble out of your mouth can also help create better relationships. Apart from saving you from the dreaded foot-in-mouth disease, it can help improve conversations with others.
If you are still on the fence about the benefits of mindfulness, then I would like to leave you with this quote to ponder. It’s from Lao Tzu – a famous Chinese philosopher, author and the founder of Taoism:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past;
If you are anxious you are living in the future;
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Article by Melanie Yeoh