We are coming to a busy time of year in a year that has been extraordinary. This year has affected people in very different ways, so as we approach Christmas maybe it is time to pause and reflect on the impact this year has had on you and those around you.
For many Christmas is a time of happiness and giving, while for others it can a time of great stress, busyness and even loneliness. I am conscious that for those of us who feel we have fared well through this extraordinary year, we may need to be more mindful of and show greater empathy for those who have found this year to be very trying.
Earlier this year I read a book called the Resilient Project which looked at the role of Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness as keys to supporting resilience both mentally and physically. Expanding on some of the concepts in the book, stress often builds up insidiously, without our knowledge and just chips away at our ability to cope and function with the day to day requirements of life.
If individuals begin to apply these three simple but challenging ideas, often restoring ones resilience is the result.
What if you woke each morning at listed 3 things you were grateful for, it could be as simple the the sunshine outside or the roof over your heads or the food on the table or those in your life who care for you. Research has shown that what we turn our attention too often leads our mental and emotional state, so beginning with some positive things in your life surly cannot hurt.
The role of empathy is going beyond ones self and thinking of others or giving to others. It might just be meeting a need of a friend, family member or total stranger. It could be as simple as a smile, a passing on of some learnt wisdom or even just being a caring listening ear. Research into empathy has shown the release of positive hormones and chemistry within the body when you reach out beyond yourself for others.
Mindfulness is the modern term for meditation, taking the time to stop and be still, taking a few slow deep breaths and let the bigness of the universe and all it has to offer begin to whisper to your soul. You may choose to begin and end your day with a short time of being still and listening to the inner thoughts that begin to pop up when you relax and let go of the stressors and busyness of your day. You may even get surprised by the calm that descends upon you and the solutions to problems you have been stuck on. There is a reason that nearly all cultures over the eons have used some form of meditation, prayers and affirmations to support their health and resilience both mentally and physically.