Welcome to the December MindFitBody Newsletter.
For many of us Christmas is a busy time of the year. Busy… it’s hectic some of you may be thinking!
In Australia, not only do we have all the Christmas things to organise, we often have to wrap things up for the main summer break at work as well. We are busy shopping for presents, writing cards, organising the house and all the things for Christmas lunch / dinner. We also may have a number of Christmas parties to go to and it seems like all our friends want to catch up!
At work most businesses are slowing or shutting down for our main summer break - this usually means we a busy finalising projects, meeting deadlines and trying to get everything done before we wrap things up for the year.
All of this can turn what should be a time of connection, love and gratitude into a time where we are left feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and stressed.
"The higher the stress, the higher the level of self centredness"
The more stress we feel, the less we can connect with the things that are going on around us and the more we focus on just running our own agenda. Tempers, patience and manners often end up out the window this time of the year as a result!
So how do we not only survive this time of the year with our sanity…. but allow ourselves to more fully connect with those we love and enjoy the time we get share with them? How to we deal with the people we may not normally choose to spend time with?
Here are some basic but powerful techniques that were shared to me by one of the world’s leading high performance experts Brendon Burchard.
Take some more moments
At a time where it is easy just to rush from one thing to the next it is important to take some more moments between the “things” we have to do. Otherwise our time just becomes a blur. We aren’t connecting with the experiences and events that are taking place now because our mind is so caught up with the next thing, getting that list ticked off, making sure we have thought of everything.
Taking moments is a fantastic way to remedy this. Here’s what to do.
Categorise your time into chunks - I’m shopping for x, y, z or I’m having lunch with Susan for 2hrs, or I’m responding to these emails for 1hr etc.
When you end a task and before you begin a new one give yourself permission to re-calibrate.
Close your eyes (if possible) otherwise keep them open and just turn your attention to the area that surrounds your heart.
As you do this just breathe naturally - a little slower and deeper if possible. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart / chest area.
If you get distracted then just return your focus and continue for anywhere between 30s and 5 minutes.
Once you get used to the practice you can also cultivate a positive feeling or intention that may serve you as you enter into the next chunk of time. Feelings of confidence, appreciation, love, compassion, focus, gratefulness are some examples
This can also be a time where we feel pulled in all different directions and sometimes we feel we have to be everywhere at once. To remedy this we have to learn how to set boundaries and become ok that we are never going to be able to be everything to everybody. Some people are going to be disappointed, upset or even angry with us sometimes. But this can only hurt us if we allow it to. In fact people’s reaction to us is not usually about us but about what is going on for them - so do your best to show some compassion even when it would be easier to react. Some boundaries you may wish to set are;
What friends would you really love to share this time of the year with and which friends can wait until the new year. You may even wish to group your friends into old friends (friends of the past), maintenance friends (friends you see 1x month to a couple of times a year) and growth friends / family ( people that you see or want to see regularly). Although this may seem harsh the reality is we all only have so much time to be a good friend and this is about more consciously designing the time you spend with the people that are truly important to you.
Set boundaries about what you can do, bring, buy, and be during this period. For example my wife and I both come from big families. For many years we have done a Kris Kringle for the adults and bought presents for all the kids. This year as our number of nieces and nephews hit 11 we implemented a boundary and decided to do a Kris Kringle for the kids. This means that we buy for just one child on each side of our family - much easier on our time and we can then get them something decent.
Be more accepting
Remember that some people haven’t done a lot of work on themselves and are stuck in a state where it is easy to get stuck in vicious cycle of stress, unrealistic expectations, OCD (obsessive control disorder!) and judgement. The best thing we can do for these people and ourselves is to be more patient, accepting and forgiving. As you more consciously try to do this you’ll find that things that may have irritated you in the past just seem to wash over you like water off a duck's back. You’ll have much more control over how you act towards others and you’ll feel a lot happier and less stress in the process! Practice makes perfect!
I sincerely hope these simple but effective tools will help you not only survive this time of the year but have a much better experience of what Christmas should really be about - connecting with those we love, sharing and being grateful for the things in our life.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!