Why we need presence more than presents this Christmas season

December 16, 2019

With Christmas now just around the corner you’ve likely begun seeing the familiar sight of festive decorations and hearing the sound of Christmas carols when out and about in the shops. Children are starting to compile their Christmas wish-lists, hoping that Santa will bring them the latest toys and gadgets. It’s that time of year again - the excitement of Christmas is well and truly in the air! 


While this time of year can be joyful, it can also be a source of stress for many people. Whether it’s squabbles over who’s hosting Christmas, juggling a diary full of functions, or over-spending on presents and stocking fillers, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the stress of Christmas and lose sight of the things that are really important.


Taking the time to slow down and be more mindful during the festive season, not only has mental and physical health benefits , it can also show our children that there is more to Christmas than the adrenaline rush that comes with unwrapping gifts! 


Here are five ways you and your loved ones can choose presence (over presents!) this Christmas:


1. Connect to Creativity 

 Making homemade gifts is not only economical, it also allows for quality time spent with your children and loved ones. Why not start a family Christmas tradition of making gifts together? Activities such as painting, drawing, knitting, sewing, cooking and writing enable children and adults alike to be more inventive and imaginative in their gift giving as well as experience the satisfaction that comes from giving gifts created by hand .


2.  Take Time to Reflect

Christmas also coincides with the final month of the year, making it a great time to take stock of the year that has been and reflect on the people and things that we are grateful for. Taking the time to write out a list of things, people or activities that we value, as well what we’ve accomplished this year , helps ground us and re-orient our attention towards the positive, which often gets overlooked, particularly at this busy time of year. 


3.  Be Mindful

As with any other stressful time of year, it’s important to make time to slow down and be mindful. Doing so helps us calm our minds and relax our bodies, both of which are essential for mental and physical wellbeing. Whether it’s a yoga class, heading out for a walk on a warm summer day or listening to a guided meditation on the Smiling Mind app, taking time out for your mind and body can make a world of difference to your mood, mindset and even sleep this festive season.


4.  Switch Off, Tune In

In the modern world, our lives are increasingly consumed by technology. Even when we are physically present our mind is often somewhere else entirely, often distracted by email and social media. At this time of year it can be harder than ever to switch off. Putting devices to one side as much as possible enables you to be more present with family and friends – your presence really is one of the greatest gifts you can give!


5.  Be kind (to yourself as well as others)

Christmas can be a hectic and stressful time, so it’s particularly important to be kind, both to yourself and others. Christmas is meant to be a time of celebration, not agitation, so try to cut yourself and others some slack - try to keep in mind that just like you the people around are likely to be tired and stressed.  Give yourself permission to take time out to slow down and re-connect to the things that are most important.