I love the present giving and receiving part of Christmas – with small children around it’s impossible to not be swept up in the pure excitement and magic of it all. I’m also someone who loves trying to find the right gift that is thoughtful and really hits the mark, so I have nothing against the gifting side of the silly season.
Nevertheless, in all the focus on presents, we can miss the point that the most valuable thing we can give the loved ones around us is our presence. Think about how much of the year we spend being ‘busy’; let this Christmas be a time to slow down and find joy in the moment.
Tips for being present
Breathe: To be present to others you first need to be able to be present with yourself. One of the simplest ways to do this is to breathe mindfully. Simply notice your breath, its rhythm and undulations, and for five breaths let everything else (especially your ‘to do’ list) fade to the background.
Switch off: The trick to switching off is to realise you have a choice where you place your attention. Put your phone away, turn off the TV and switch on to your surroundings, whether that’s the beauty in nature around you, your fur babies or your family.
Eye contact: It sounds simple but if you make eye contact when you speak with people you’re going a long way to making a better connection. Eye contact is an antidote to multi-tasking, which means whilst you’re having a conversation you’re actually allowing your nervous system to reset.
Say no: It’s hard to be present when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Learning to say no to things when you’re feeling overcommitted or just exhausted paves the way to making sure when you do say yes to spending time with friends or loved ones, it feels nourishing rather than exhausting.
Play: Holidays are a great time for playing cards, doing a jigsaw puzzle, having a game of beach cricket or dusting off a family board game. Play switches us on to being in the moment in a joyful and easy way.
WITH WESLEY SMITH, DIRECTOR, LIVE WELL SPA & WELLNESS CENTRE MANUKA
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