Words: Emily Cliff
Christmas can be an extraordinarily stressful time for many. Here at self care sunday we are determined to make this time of year less stressful for everyone! We are providing tips to help harness the joy and not get lost in the stressy mess. So boil the kettle, cut a slice of cake and cuddle up to read about our tips to help calm the mind when it’s running quicker than me spotting free samples in Selfridges.
Last week we spoke about the joys surrounding the Christmas holiday period, however for many christmas can be one of the most stressful times of year, and it is understandable. Aldi turns into the Somme and shopping centres turn into survival of the fittest. Back home, there is a shopping centre called Merry Hill, and every year it turns into Merry Hell (as named by my Dad) full of last minute Christmas shoppers. That is enough to make any sane person go running for the hills, however, when you get home follow our meditation tips and watch all of that stress just melt away.
Meditation is one of the best ways to calm to mind, and to just take a moment to breathe. When people think about meditation they usually think about the calm Monks in the mountains surrounded by misty clouds and beautiful scenery and it’s usually quite a daunting image. If you are wondering where to start, guided meditation is a brilliant introduction. There are many apps to help get you started, one of my favourites is Headspace (look it up here). Meditation doesn’t take up a lot of time during the day, you can start your day with it or you can end your day with it. I personally prefer the latter, meditation is proven to help you get a better night’s sleep.
By clearing your mind of everything that clouds it up, you will feel much better and less stressed. You can meditate for as little as five minutes, it is all about taking the time out to just breathe. Meditation can take many different forms, so let’s start at the beginning: breathing. As simple as it may sound, breathing is at the forefront of meditation, control your breathing and the rest will follow. If you are having trouble sleeping there is a podcast on spotify and all major streaming platforms called Sleep Cove (look it up here), at the beginning of almost every episode there are a range of deep breathing exercises. When you breathe deeply and put all of your focus on your breath and your breathing pattern, your mind tends to calm itself, and a wave of relaxation is shortly followed.
Another method of meditation is counting. I know how this may sound, but counting to ten or even fifty has done wonders for my little noggin. When you shift your focus from something that is stressing you out or making you feel anxious, it will soon melt away. If we put counting and deep breathing together the mind will eventually calm itself and everything bad clogging it up will soon just float away. After all, meditation by definition is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
Self care has never been more important, and we need to look after our mental wellbeing as well as our physical well being. Taking the time out to meditate may seem really daunting at first but when you pair it with something you enjoy doing or another self care task it will come really easily. A way to do this could be by having a bath, or even doing a face mask. The ten minutes you need to do that facemask could be ten minutes you could use to meditate. Social media is a blessing and a curse, so next time when you do a facemask try meditation for ten or fifteen minutes instead of mindlessly scrolling through instagram.
In a time like this we are so aware of looking after other people that we almost forget to look after ourselves. A pandemic can be a really lonely and anxious time so taking the time out to meditate and treat ourselves can be really beneficial on the mind. That doesn’t mean we have to stop doing our good deeds and stop helping people all together, we just have to remember that we in ourselves are our number one priority, and no one can change that. So next time you feel anxious, or your mind is racing a little too much, light your favorite candles, sit in a comfortable position, breathe deeply, and count to 100 even if the effects are only temporary, I promise you, your mind will thank you for it.
You can listen to the Self-Care Sunday playlist here: