Posted on November 27, 2017 · Posted in Barefoot

It sure might not be as summery as the photo above but guess what? The days are getting shorter and nights are drawing in – the wisdom of the seasons would say it’s time to put your feet up and wind down your year. For many of us, however, this seems to be the busiest, craziest time of the year. We spoke to Aakriti Kaushik on how to keep your sanity in the run up to Christmas…

 

1. Holidays are meant to be fun times! How are we getting it wrong? What do you think are the main causes of holiday stress?

I think the simple answer to this is trying to aim for perfection, and indulging in several things mindlessly. Too much use of tech is a big contributor. And, then a lot of us also end up trying to do too much to meet (sometimes unrealistic) expectations of ourselves or others. Let’s face it – it is that time of the year when there are a zillion things to do, and the “run down” feeling starts to appear in the form of stress. General busyness, last minute shopping lists, hosting pressures, loneliness, and seasonal depression are some of the top causes of stress in the run up to Christmas. Where we get it wrong is not being mindful of our emotions and how to acknowledge and let go of what is beyond our control.

 

2. What was your most stressful Christmas memory? How did meditation save the day?

I traditionally celebrate Diwali, which, for me, is like the Indian version of Christmas. I was recently visiting family after almost thirteen years since my last Diwali in India in 2004. It took only a couple of days for the excitement to turn into something that felt more like a “get me out of here” feeling, because of too many things going on at the same time. Dinners, presents, relatives, the sound of firecrackers, too much food, disagreements at the dinner table! I also noticed how all of this was being constantly exaggerated by a mix of everyone else’s emotions. Those moments of taking notice, returning to the breath, and generating lots of loving kindness helped me stay balanced and calm and sail through all of it like a pro! 🙂

 

3. We have the best intentions to stay calm and stress free but when the family’s around and everything’s going crazy, it all goes out of the window. What’s your top tip for remembering how to stay Zen?

Mindfulness is the answer to staying stress free. It’s not something you go away and practice in the corner of a room or away from anything or anyone that is causing the stress. You practice it right in the middle of all the chaos. You become aware of the stressful circumstances, how they affect your emotions and then choose your response to it. It takes practice, like everything else. Everyone’s stressful situations have different triggers. But, once you learn the practical mindfulness-based tools you are prepared to deal better with what really can be the most wonderful time of the year.

 

4. How can one remember to be mindful or take the time to meditate in such a busy period? 

Just as you don’t have to remind yourself to breathe you don’t have to do something special to become mindful, except remind yourself to return to the breath when you feel stressed. It’s a habit that takes time to cultivate. But just a few mindful breaths taken in the present moment, food eaten mindfully, dishes done mindfully, a walk taken mindfully, are all the actions that lead to joy, which is the antidote to stress. It all starts making sense with practice, I promise! 🙂

 

5. What can one expect from a meditation workshop?

Attendees will experience a mix of guided calm-abiding and analytical meditations to take charge of potential overwhelming situations. The workshop is aimed at anybody struggling to maintain balance or cope with stressful times during the holiday period, and would like to feel a connection with peace and solitude in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Aakriti will be conducting the Stress Meltdown Meditation Workshop on Sat 2 Dec 2017. More info HERE.