Have yourself a mindful Christmas with some smart tips from the experts

If the thought of the festive season makes you want to hide until it’s all over, you’re not alone.

Remember when Christmas was all about a lazy day with family and friends, a feast of turkey, ham, salads and pavlova followed by a game of cricket with the neighbours and an afternoon swim?

Wellness experts say we’re trying so hard to meet ridiculously high expectations we’re forgetting Christmas is meant to be fun – and about spending time with the people we love, exchanging gifts and having a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

But there are some easy and simple ways in which we can recapture the magic of Christmas, says Libby Weaver, author of The Rushing Women’s Syndrome.

“The first is to switch off, and that includes phones, iPads, even the television for a while,” Dr Weaver says.

“The explosion of digital technology over the past two decades means we’re finding it impossible to tune out.

“A few years ago, you could spend a day Christmas shopping without being disturbed and enjoy the process, now most people I know can’t even sit at the traffic lights without checking their emails.

“Then, you need to list down what you really want out of Christmas and focus on what’s important, whether it’s getting the family together, organising a beach barbecue or catching up with friends you haven’t seen for a while,” she says.

With Salvation Army figures also revealing close to half of all Australians feel the financial pinch during the summer holidays, Dr Weaver says it’s also important to keep it real, work out a budget and stick to it.

How to have a magical festive season

Mindfulness – from spending quality time with those you love, to destressing from work – write down whatever it is that matters to you. When you feel your temper rising, look at your list and breathe!

Assign duties – learn to delegate. You can’t decorate the tree, wrap all the presents, cook a turkey and make all the salads. People love to help, so divvy up the duties and make this everyone’s day. “No-one will remember how clean your house was but they will remember a happy, warm and festive atmosphere,” Dr Weaver says. “Remember Christmas is supposed to be a holiday!”

Gifts can be simple – the days of excess are over. Bake some treats and tie them with colourful Christmas ribbons. Buy all of your girlfriends a beautiful, bright lipstick. If you’re having family and friends round on Christmas Day, organise a Kris Kringle so every person gets a special gift.

Inhale – don’t forget to breathe. Make this Christmas all about health and happiness. Set aside 10 minutes for reflection each day of the festive season. Close your eyes and meditate. And remember to be grateful.

Carols – whether it’s watching Carols by Candlelight or belting out your old favourites, nothing says “tis the season to be jolly” better than voices raised in song. So deck that hall, sing a little joy to the world and join Paul McCartney in singing: “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time!”

Written by Liz McGrath

Watch Social Scientist Dr Ali Walker in action below, giving us the simple tips and tricks we need to make Christmas a stress-free time.