Mindfulness & the festive season

Wishing you all a peaceful festive season!

Dealing with festive stress

I see many clients for psychotherapy who really struggle at this time of year.


It is painful for some who have little connection with family or friends.Sadness or loneliness arises. Aim to acknowledge this with absolute compassion and hold it with both love and acceptance.

Gently face fear and reach out

Aloneness can encourage the possibility of facing fear and reaching out to someone; friends, family or even a free event provided in the community. Sometimes anxiety makes this very daunting. In this case very small steps like reaching out online or by text or email maybe valuable. Otherwise just getting into nature being at the beach or a park. Let nature love you, accept yourself with love.  

Take small steps

We can aim to slowly work on aloneness over time. To start by loving and accepting ourselves in this moment with whatever social anxieties we may have. Then to truly face that we are responsible for building our relationships and facing our fear in tiny steps. Never in a rushed overwhelming kind of way, but by accepting our fears  and slowly working on dealing with them (perhaps at times with the help of a therapist or a social anxiety group).For example reaching out to individuals we may feel  the most comfortable with first, very slowly working on that relationship, then later working on others.

Aim to let go of resisitance to what is

It is our minds non acceptance of aloneness and our self judgment that often contributes to distress. Spend some time surrounded by something beautiful in nature or in a beautiful building. Be as present as you can , be aware of and fully accept any emotion.Then just become aware of awareness itself.In this way the peace of the festive season will not bypass you, rather you can find a peace that is not dependant on any outside circumstances.Presence creates a sense of connectedness and deep acceptance that is very healing. We can learn to access the love that is inside.

Overwhelm means we are not looking after ourselves

Overwhelmedness is common in these busy times of year. Firstly never resist the opportunity that these busy situations provide for you. Many of us, myself included in past times, don’t look forward to these times because we have fear of being overwhelmed. Actually these occasions provide the perfect opportunity for us to tune in and notice how our body is going. If there is overwhelm it is up to us to look after our bodies better. No one else can do it for us.
This may mean having the courage to say no to things. It may mean choosing to look after ourselves first rather than focusing on carrying everyone around us.See my post on people carrying. Aim not to act from “should” but rather from what feels comfortable for your tired body. Then you have a chance of learning what you need to learn.We can be very compassionate with people without trying to carry them.Compassion is different to carrying.It involves a deep acceptance of others as they are, even though we may still need to set firm boundaries.

Dealing with difficult people

A final issue may be having to deal with difficult people or family members at this time of year. Here is a list of useful suggestions.
    1. Aim not to resist this situation or the fact that you have to deal with this person. Everything in life is an opportunity for growth and these challenges are perfect for that.
    2. Honestly face what you are bringing to this situation first.Are you bringing old patterns like the need to control or the need to carry? Is some of your difficult emotion such as pain, fear, jealousy or inadequacy being taken out on this person. These issues may be present or they may not.If they are just acknowledge and accept them and you will be much less likely to take them out on the other person. If really you feel clear and that this person is taking their stuff out on you,then it maybe necessary to stand up for your truth in some way or set clear boundaries around hurtful behavior. Sometimes this is hard to manage because the other person is incapable of hearing anything. In these circumstances just clearly see that the difficult behavior is coming from that persons unconscious emotion and that truly there is nothing wrong with you. I see many people who blame themselves when another person is treating them badly, this is not the case . Presence is extremely helpful here as it can teach you how not to get caught up in the other person. I will mention this later.
    3. Aim to understand the depth of the other person, see what is underneath their difficult behavior.Usually there will always be some kind of pain, fear or feelings of worthlessness. When we can truly see the depth of another person we can deal with them much more compassionately. Because we see that they are not trying to hurt us, they are simply out of control caught in unconscious emotion. This doesn’t mean that we can’t set boundaries or choose to spend less time with them, but we will deal with them in a more compassionate way.
    4. Be present. This is the most important on the list. A useful method is to practice the body meditation on my resources page (based on Eckhart Tolle’s feeling the inner body meditation). When you are with someone challenging, always keep some awareness on a part of your body maybe the energy in your hands or your breathing. It really helps you to stay more centered with yourself and not get caught up in the other persons fear, criticism ,anger or manipulative tendencies. It also helps you to clearly see that this is their stuff, it has very little to do with you. As we work on presence and can be aware of it in ourselves we can also be aware of it in others.This is very healing no matter who we are dealing with.Presence does take a little practice.If you have a relative whom you really struggle to be with be kind to yourself and limit your exposure as much as you need too.We always have to heal our bodies first the rest will come in time.
Wishing you all a very peaceful festive season.

Much Love