Christmas Survival Guide: Staying Conscious
Most of our myhaventime team are based in Melbourne - the city that, in October, bypassed Buenos Aires' and achieved the unenviable title of the most locked-down city on the planet.
It’s been a fortnight now since Melbourne has unfurled its restrictions and for many that meant going from zero to a hundred as friends and families sought to make up for lost time. Certainly the sense of freedom and optimism is palpable, but we can’t help but wonder if throwing ourselves back into the chaos at such speed is a good thing?
One silver lining of lockdown was the awakening that came with the solitude, slowing down, and newfound time in our otherwise busy lives.
There was an uptake of hands-on activities, like sourdough baking, which elicited a sense of comfort and nostalgia and achievement. We also saw innovative means of human connection with remote catch-ups with loved ones or initiatives to connect the isolated. Many also tended to their mental and physical health through movement, meditation and introspection to balance the heightened challenges of life in lockdown.
Collectively we learnt new skills, reconnected with our passions, invested in our personal and professional development, and ultimately found ourselves more conscious and self-aware as we traded our busy schedules for periods of calm, uninterrupted time to think, do and explore.
Now, as we transition back to reality with momentum and haste, we can’t help but feel the awakening slipping away. Especially as we get closer to Christmas - the busiest, most frivolous time of year - how can we hold on to the learnings and elevated consciousness from the last few months?
Here is our survival guide to maintaining balance, calm and awareness throughout the silly season and beyond...
Simplify and eliminate the non-essentials
Simplification is a useful tool that can be applied to every facet of our personal and professional lives.
Author Marie Kondō writes,
“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”
This sentiment extends beyond the physical items in our space. Especially as we move out of lockdown and into the chaos of Christmas, consider the boundaries you can put in place to safeguard your time and the positive habits built in lockdown.
It is easy to throw ourselves back into work as we return to the office or commit to social occasions to make up for lost time - but the flow on effect of these decisions may look like less time for your morning walk, or sheer exhaustion in the evenings that leaves no time for journaling or reflection.
What occasions and commitments are you genuinely looking forward to? Which will spark joy? And is there space to simplify? Can you attend one less dinner or Christmas party? Can you pre-arrange your Christmas shopping online as opposed to braving the shops? What about being truly present and engaged at one family Christmas instead of travelling around to three?
Decisions like these can be hard to make but ultimately they are immediate choices that affect our future happiness, health and consciousness.
Use Christmas as a time to reflect and connect authentically
Some years ago travelling I met an eccentric older woman who chose to spend her Christmas alone, simply sitting by the fireplace in meditation — sending love and gratitude to family and friends from afar. As a sheltered person in my early-twenties I couldn’t help but place this lady in the ‘crazy’ basket at the time!
Now I realise that she was, in fact, practicing loving-kindness meditation - a kind of meditation whereby you focus your benevolent energy towards yourself and others in order to foster kindness and connection. Some ten years later I now see that she had managed to do something exceedingly difficult - to buck the status quo of Christmas chaos and consumption.
Obviously Christmas is an important and anticipated time for us to connect with families and friends, especially after the months of separation in lockdown. But how can we shift our focus from ‘doing’ to ‘being’ with one another.
Plus, how can we use those rare moments without work in between Christmas and New Years to reflect upon the year past, refocus and calibrate for the year ahead?
To do this, we can return to the very activities we embraced in lockdown…
- Journaling: Spare ten minutes everyday to document the moments that made you feel fulfilled and happy throughout the last year and during the Christmas period. You could do this in a traditional journal or using a mindfulness app like myhaventime which can be taken with you anywhere.
- Gratitude: Foster more authentic connection by writing a letter to a loved one expressing your gratitude for their presence in your life — this is much more meaningful than a hallmark Christmas card.
- Meditation: Just like the woman who I met travelling, try a loving-kindness meditation to build self-love and thoughts to those who you cannot see over Christmas.
- Making: Remember what brought you joy in lockdown? Whether it was painting or sourdough making, put new skills to use by ‘making’ a gift as opposed to buying something that will be long forgotten come January.
Much of the joy at Christmas comes from gifting (perhaps this year more than ever as we reunite with the friends and family whose birthdays and milestones we may have missed in lockdown).
After the awakening of lockdown — where we embraced simplicity, built self-awareness, shopped locally, became more hands-on, and experienced a shift in values — it feels counterintuitive to rush to a large mall and buy gifts simply because.
This year, think outside of the box when gifting for friends, family or colleagues.
You could look to organisations and charities to donate on behalf of the gift recipient. For example, at Greenfleet you can select to purchase 5 native trees that will be protected for 100 years. This is a thoughtful gift with a long-lasting impact, unlike much of the mass-produced products that will end up in landfill in the months after Christmas.
Ps. myhaventime contributed to Greenfleet this year, donating a ‘milestone forest’. Learn more here.
Like we mentioned above, putting new skills to use and making something for a loved one is a meaningful alternative to purchasing a last-minute gift card, pair of socks or stocking stuffer.
That said, despite our best efforts to ‘simplify’ our lives after lockdown, the Christmas period can feel unavoidably busy. If you don’t have time to make a gift, shop consciously for products or brands that are local, sustainable and will be genuinely useful for the recipient in the months and years to come.
Some ideas include…
- A voucher to a local cafe, restaurant, store or studio which was impacted by lockdown
- A membership to a personal and professional development app like myhaventime which means the recipient can grow, invest in themselves and learn throughout the year
- Purchasing from a marketplace such as Buy From the Bush which supports rural Australian communities and businesses
- A mindfulness+ gift box from myhaventime: our new gift box which contains a collection of inspiring, local and sustainable pieces to enrich the lives of your friends, families or clients. With organic tea, essential oil and diffusers, journals and much more, the mindfulness+ gift box is designed to foster a sense of awareness and consciousness throughout Christmas time and into the new year.
"To become more conscious is the greatest gift anyone can give to the world; moreover, in a ripple effect, the gift comes back to its source" - David R. Hawkins
How have you found returning to life after lockdown? Have you thrown yourself into the deep end or are you slowly adapting to our ‘new normal’? Will Christmas look different this year?
Let us know @myhaventime.