The lead up to the festive season can be joyful, but it can also be quite a stressful time for people.
While you may be looking forward to a well-earned break or spending time with friends or family, this time of year can often come with work pressures such as finishing big projects, last minute deadlines or racing to put together end of year reports.
In your personal life you can also be juggling more than usual with a calendar full of functions or preparing for Christmas. Managing all of this along with your everyday responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed both at work and at home.
In our very busy lives when there is more on our plate, being overwhelmed can get the better of us from time to time and we need strategies and tools that can help us experience more peace.
Experiencing peace of mind
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” - Jill Botte Taylor
There’s a difference between having a peaceful environment and having a peaceful mind. The nature of our busy lives means we can’t control what’s going on in our outer environment but we can train the mind to enter deliberate states of peace and calm.
We don’t have to experience total silence or stay at a wellness retreat to find peace of mind. We want to be able to access a peaceful state of mind when we’re meeting deadlines, managing daily pressures, and at the times we need it most.
Much like when you practise physical training, your body becomes better at that particular physical exercise through improved fitness and motor memory, when you practise training your mind to experience peace, your mind has a stronger reference point to return to this state when you need it.
There are several ways to train your mind to experience peace and tranquillity so that your mind can access it, even during busy and chaotic times.
Here are three simple strategies you can use to experience more peace and feel less overwhelmed this festive season.
1. Practise mindfulness
Mindfulness isn’t about relaxation, it’s all about awareness. It’s the act of being aware of anything you choose to place your attention on.
Mindfulness-based practices teach you skills that help you bring your awareness into your present moment, allowing you to pause and appreciate moments in life and be more attentive and productive. Pausing also helps you choose how and what you want to do in any given situation. It’s like playing things in slow motion so you can take advantage of how you want to respond in situations.
Research has shown the link between mindfulness-based training and improvements in employee wellbeing. In a recent study with participants in the financial advice sector, one of our mindfulness-based activities helped improve participants’ wellbeing, reduce stress and increase levels of mindfulness in just 10 days.
Another way you can start practising mindfulness in your day-to-day life is choosing an activity you do regularly, such as making your morning breakfast, and focussing on that activity while you’re doing it and engaging all your senses. Anytime your mind moves to something else, notice it and gently bring your focus back to the task at hand.
The more you can practise mindfulness, even in short bouts, the more capacity you’ll have to reduce stress and experience peace.
2. Conscious breathing
Conscious breathing is a simple yet powerful relaxation tool. It’s easy to learn, can be practised anywhere, and provides a speedy way to improve your stress levels.
The next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed you can try this easy relaxing technique.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Relax your shoulders and focus on expanding your abdomen.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth. When releasing air, gently bring your lips toward each other leaving a small gap between them, and make sure you relax your jaw.
- Maintain this breathing cycle for several minutes.
Remember, you should be able to breathe comfortably and not strain.
Practising slow, conscious breathing helps you experience more peace and improves your overall wellbeing.
3. Take time to recharge
Having time to relax and unwind is important, especially when you’re juggling more than usual and experiencing stress or feeling overwhelmed. Taking time out to participate in activities outside of work which are emotionally and physically nurturing can restore the energy levels you need to feel your best and experience more peace.
While it can seem counterintuitive to schedule in time to relax when your to-do list is already long, incorporating time to recharge and revitalise is important in maintaining your mental fitness and wellbeing and will go a long way in helping you feel less overwhelmed at work and at home this festive season.
These three strategies are easier to implement than you might think.
Mindfulness and conscious breathing can be practised at any time throughout your normal day and it takes very little time to reap the benefits. Making time to recharge your batteries can be as simple as leaving the office for your lunch break or going for a walk before or after work.
If you aren’t already practising these strategies, the lead up to the festive season is a great time of year to start. With regular practice you’ll experience more peace, less stress and more joy.