Twelve days of Simple Pleasures – an antidote to festive season stress

When we slow down enough, we notice the delight in ordinary days. As an antidote to the stress of the silly season I’ve created these mindfulness prompts for you, the 12 days of Simple Pleasures. To bring you back to the present moment and remind you to enjoy the small things that would normally pass you by.

This list isn’t supposed to add to your load. Do your best, something is better than nothing. Remember that you need to take a few minutes for your own wellbeing every day. It’s not a luxury, it’s essential. Don’t worry if you miss a couple of days. These ideas are to get you to notice at least one thing each day that makes you smile.

The important thing is that when you have an enjoyable experience, a moment of deep contentment, don’t be too quick to skip over it to the next thing. A thoughtful message from your best friend. The birds singing outside your window, a hot shower or coffee in bed. When you’re in that moment, pause. Close your eyes. Feel it in your body. Soak in the joy of it. Notice the details and sit with it a little longer than you usually would and you’ll find you’ll have more resilience throughout the day than you would have otherwise.

Twelve Days of Simple Pleasures

A huge bunch of flowers being placed into a handmade pottery vaseDay One – Give yourself some flowers.

There’s nothing like a bunch of fresh flowers to make a room feel cheerful. Put them at the entry to your house so you see them every time you walk in the front door. Even better if you have a green neighbourhood, you can go for a walk around the block to forage for greenery. A couple of simple branches of banksia in my hallway makes the whole house feel like summertime.

Day Two – Listen to your favourite song.

Whatever mood you’re in. Have a Beyoncé dance-off in the kitchen. Or put on your headphones for a few minutes with just you and Yo Yo Ma. Notice how it feels in your body when the music is playing, go with the rhythm of it. If you like relaxing background music, check out my Mindful Making playlist.

Day Three – Taste your food.

We have so much food to eat at Christmas. Plates are piled high with crayfish, pavlova and fruitcake. Every year we’re eating leftover glazed ham and cheese toasties until January. More isn’t always better. Today, have a small treat to eat and savour it slowly. A couple of squares of chocolate or a fresh sweet nectarine. Before you take a bite, notice the details, the colour, the smell, how it feels in your hand. Anticipate the first bite. Close your eyes and let it melt in your mouth and enjoy the deliciousness.

Day Four – Light a candle.

Candles are cosiness in a jar. Even the act of lighting a candle feels thoughtful and makes a room more intimate. Tonight when you get home, take a minute to light your favourite candle and enjoy the feeling of quiet and calm that it brings. This time of year I love my Gingerbread Candle. It makes the whole house smell like I’m baking cookies.

Gingerbread candle on a wooden tray with cookies

Day Five – Make time for someone you love.

Call a friend for a chat or get together for a catch-up. No distractions! Put your devices on silent and out of sight and have an uninterrupted conversation. The most precious gift you can give someone is your attention. Be there and listen. If you’re like me and you have a love-hate relationship with your phone and how it interrupts all the good things in life, read my story on how I broke my phone addiction.

Day Six – Sip your fave drink slowly.

Savour your cup of tea, or coffee, or green smoothie – or G&T, hey it’s Christmas! Whatever you feel like. Give yourself a couple of minutes to enjoy your brew. In your tea break at work, instead of checking your socials while the kettle boils, take ten deep breaths.

Reading a book and enjoying a cup of chai

Day Seven – Breathe.

Something we can do to calm ourselves anywhere, anytime is to focus on breathing. Taking a few deep breaths can get you out of our head and back into the moment. I use the headspace app, it’s a like having my own meditation coach in my pocket. On the mornings that I remember to do a short meditation, I’m better prepared to go with the flow of the ups and downs of the day ahead.

Day Eight – Enjoy the ritual of bathing.

Having a bath or a shower at the end of the day isn’t just about cleaning the dirt off your body. It’s the perfect time for some self-care. It’s a place where you can experience the healing elements of nature in your own home. Notice the luxurious sensation of the hot water and the smell of your soap.

Day Nine – Share cookies.

Bake some Christmas cookies and share them hot out of the oven. If you’re not into baking it doesn’t matter, buy some yummy ones and share them. Everyone loves free cookies.

Rosemary cookies on a handmade ceramic platter

Day Ten – Walk barefoot in the sand.

Or on the grass. Spend time outside in the soothing beauty of nature. When the chattering monkey is getting too loud in my head, I go to the beach, kick off my shoes and walk barefoot in the sand. It grounds me and gives me perspective on how vast the world is. Things that seem to consume my life feel smaller when I step out of my routine and look out into the ocean.

Day Eleven – Have a hug.

With your lover, your child, your dog or your friend. Embrace and enjoy the moment of closeness and connection with someone you love. We’re so focused on the consumption at Christmas we forgot to reflect on what we have. Be grateful for people you have in your life who love you.

Day Twelve – Write a card.

Put pen to paper. Write a note to your dad, your oldest school friend, your partner or your kid’s school teacher thanking them for the things they do. It’s such a rare delight to get a handwritten note in the mail. I promise it will make their day. When they see the envelope and read your kind words you’ll give them a simple pleasure that’ll make them smile.

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