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4 gentle tips for a mindful Christmas

After the year we’ve had, it’s time to relax and enjoy good food with our nearest and dearest. But beware of burnout! Survive the silly season with these stress-free tips.

Christmas is the most magical time of year but equally busy and stressful, with plenty of planning, shopping, cooking and eating! If you find yourself wishing you could curb some of the excesses, practise these four mindful habits for the ultimate stress-free holiday season.

1. Eat consciously

Let’s face it. Christmas is about celebrating which usually means plenty of treats and flowing wine. But you can still eat healthily by practising mindful, conscious eating. This involves learning to experience food more intensely, especially the pleasure of it. Take small bites and really pay attention to the taste and texture of foods. Use all your senses: look at the meal, admire the colours and aromas, and savour every moment. Conscious eating also means eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied, rather than using other common cues, such as how much food is on the buffet table and the size of your plate or cocktail glass. These little things often shape our food choices, causing us to indulge more than we need to.

2. Strike a balance

Okay, so you overdid it at Christmas lunch. Now what? When you think about the bigger picture, a day or two of overindulging isn’t going to make a major difference to your overall wellbeing. It’s more about what you do most of the time, not occasionally. As much as possible over the Christmas period, continue sticking to your regular fitness schedule, eating a balanced breakfast, snacking with intention and purpose, and being mindful of your alcohol intake.

3. Show self-compassion

With extended family visiting or lots of people to catch up with, it’s easy to forget about spending time with your own family and, more importantly, giving yourself some ‘me-time’. Actively carve out moments of calm among the holiday madness by planning at least 10 minutes for yourself every day. This could involve having a quiet cup of tea in another room or taking a brisk walk around the block. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you love: indulge your senses, feed your soul and spend time just for you.

4. Dare a digital detox

Shut down the laptop, put your phone on silent and have a night off Netflix. In short, give your mind space and time to recover from all the information it’s having to process at this stressful time of year. Even if you can only manage an hour here and there, switching off all tech devices will work wonders. Your kids will love having your undivided attention while you play Monopoly or UNO with them, and catching up on much-needed slumber will help you feel a lot more rested and recharged for the festivities ahead.

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