• Discover Hidden Britain

WELLBEING | 10 ways to Stay Mindful over the festive period

If you’ve ever got to Boxing Day or New Years Day and you’ve gone ‘Thank Goodness – that’s over’ – well this blog is for you! Whether you get overrun by family, friends, neighbours or whether you hate the holidays because it’s a reminder of every thing you don’t have, you haven’t got, you’ve lost or that doesn’t exist any more well read on…

Discover Hidden Britain started off in essence as an attempt to free myself from other people’s decisions – that I should be happier, join in more, be different, act different, continue as if life were still the same – and for me, well life wasn’t the same, it was different but I was the same and I couldn’t, and wouldn’t keep giving little pieces of myself away just to satisfy other people. So I found OUTSIDE – and it was a wonderful thing. And it remains a wonderful thing.

I loved the freedom of the outside. Walking across grassy fields with only the sheep for company. Crunching through the leaves of a woodland, marvelling at the trees. Breathing in. Breathing out. Life just became so unbelievably simple. The delight of a field gate. A stump to sit. Companions with the same ideas of liberation, a flask, a rucksack and the views of the world to remind yourself that there are bigger things at play. A life worth living for.

Discover Hidden Britain is that – an anthology of life worth living, of history worth knowing, of people, of places worth discovering so if you need something to keep you sane this holiday, if you need that perspective, I hope this gives you some ideas to take time for you, to just be you.

1. Take a walk

Whether you just go around the block for half an hour or lose yourself on a public footpath for a day, it is completely up to you. It is sometimes just really good to get out into the world, walk round the village, the town, the city, the park – gaze at other people’s lights and trees, natter with anyone who wants to make conversation, or put your pack on with a snack, a flask and get some perspective about your place in the world. Find yourself a place for yourself or a place for ambling with friends. And remember if you need ideas, Discover Hidden Britain is there – why not try your local woodland like Ravensroost Wood in Wiltshire?

2. Look at somewhere or something familiar in a different way

I’ve always tried to follow the mantra – ‘Don’t do something because you think you have to…’ I find it useful in helping me to break out of convention or social rigidity, to re-focus on your own individual ideas. Remember you don’t have to do something just because you’ve never done it differently. So before you agree tacitly to do something, before social obligation and familial requirement guilt-trips you into it – take a moment, force yourself to look at the situation in different way. Is there something you could differently? You would have more meaningful ownership about your own decision-making. A more mindful you.

3. Go somewhere new

Change is sometimes scary. Different is sometimes provocative. So why not start with something-else? Make yourself a promise, that sometime over the festive season, you go somewhere new where you’ve never been before – a place, an event, a space. Expand your horizons! Whether it’s a little bit or a lot… the world is still a big place. Look at the experiences we have on the website – walk, hike, relax or so much more...

4. Take 30 minutes every day for you

Its sounds easy doesn’t it? Take 30 minutes of you time. But its amazing at Christmas particularly, when suddenly other people and other people’s concerns, obligations, requirements become central stage. So whether its yoga, meditation, a cup of tea in a chair looking out the window, a coffee in your favourite café, or something-else – take the time. Take your time. You’ll feel better for it – its called self-care.

5. Delegate

Delegate means ‘to entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than one-self’ – so how does that work? Well it means start passing over some of that control, some of those non-essential, essential Yuletide jobs to other people. Your partner, your children, your extended family… And if that scares you, work out what jobs that you want to do and which jobs don’t matter – there’s your answer…

6. Light a candle

Speaking as a British resident since birth, we all know what December weather is like… dark, drab, grim, grey and getting darker by the minute. But here’s the wonder of December – it also has the shortest day or the Winter Solstice for the those who more familiar with this – the 21st December. It means that from that date – the days begin to get longer. For me it’s the turning point of the year, six months of progressively longer, brighter, better weather. The light returns! But until those days return, the light of a candle offers a white light, a light of remembrance, a light of a future, of hope. So whether its scented, or plain, filled with the smell of Christmas or the summer, light a candle, remember or just sit… but do remember to blow it out when you’re finished!

7. Find somewhere that isn’t Christmas related

This isn’t about escaping. Its about remembering what life is like normally. Its about giving yourself an ‘outlet’ if you need it. So take yourself swimming, take the kids swimming, go play football in the park, what ever your enjoy normally, what ever makes perfect sense to you.

8. See some wildlife

This time of year offers a multitude of opportunities to see the wildlife of Britain. Birds in your garden – robins and blackbirds. The astonishing murmurations of starlings that appear like great moving shadows in the sky. Go bug-hunting in the woods. Look for deer or boar. Find yourself down at the local nature reserve, or go a wetlands centre, head down to the coast. Find something amazing. Nature offers the amazing.

9. Make something – cook/create/make/write/paint

This quietly simply is about self-expression. You may be someone who loves being creative. In which case, take some time to express how you’re feeling. Maybe its Christmassy thing! Maybe not. Maybe its written. Maybe painted. Maybe you cook. Maybe you craft. On your own or with kids, or with others in a community? It matters not. If you need some ideas, why not make your own Christmas wreath – here’s the video

10. And remember, you decide when Christmas is over – make a decision when your Christmas is over!