‘Christmas comes but once a year’ … and brings plenty of stress with it during Advent. Usually, the weeks leading up to Christmas are very hectic – both at work where the last projects of the year have to be finished before the break, and in our private lives, too. Presents for our nearest and dearest have to be bought and wrapped, the Christmas tree decorated and festive meals organised and prepared.
Actually, this season is supposed to be spent in peace and contemplation, but rarely does anyone have time for a cosy get-together with festive nibbles. The hustle and bustle never ends and we are right in the thick of it. But the stress is often self-inflicted … So why not enjoy the days before Christmas and do something different this year?
Christmas is the feast of love and joy … So let’s be joyful during this season! How? Let’s relearn the art of smiling. Scientists tell us that babies smile about 400 times a day on average, adults only 15 times. This means that we have a smile deficit of 385 times a day or 140,000 times a year.
Have we lost the art of smiling? It has been scientifically proven that smiling makes us happier people and also strengthens the immune system, which in turn has a positive effect on our health – a very pleasant side effect. If your smile turns into a laugh, you will also give yourself an amazing abdominal muscle workout.
These upcoming weeks, a time of joy, are a wonderful opportunity to remind us of the art of smiling. But you have to make a little effort as you have to overcome the “gravity” that usually pulls the corners of your mouth downwards. Actively lifting the corners of your mouth requires a little input by your muscles – that’s the secret.
Here is your 3-minute smiling exercise:
1. Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale slowly.
2. Feel how your abdomen moves outwards when you inhale and inwards when you exhale.
3. Take 3 breaths, while consciously observing your breathing.
Smile 3 times while exhaling, even if it feels odd at first and you have to force yourself to do it.
Smile 3 times when exhaling, and your cheeks will smile, too!
Smile 3 times when exhaling, and your eyes will smile, too.
Smile 3 times when exhaling, and include your whole face.
Smile 3 times when exhaling, and let your whole body smile!
4. Say to your inner being:
“I am at peace. I am surrounded by love. I am surrounded by joy.”
5. Take 2 more deep breaths and then slowly open your eyes with a beautiful smile.
Smiling costs nothing – and isn’t taxed either! If you don’t have the time or opportunity for the smiling meditation, just smile like this: Stand in front of a mirror and pull the corners of your mouth up to a smile for 60 seconds. This is the challenge, even if at first you don’t feel like smiling at all and have to force yourself to do it. Try it out and be open to the amazing results. Then there is nothing more to do than enjoy your smile and the joy you spread.
Here are a few more tips for a relaxing Christmas
1. Be in the moment: light some candles, reflect for a moment, smell the scent of pine needles or the cold winter air. Reflect on what is important, and the here and now. Problems can often be seen in a different light or you see other, previously unnoticed, solutions.
2. Everything is perfect: whether something is perfect or not is basically a matter of opinion and a question of your own perception. Actually there is nothing “imperfect” on this planet. Everything is good, just as it is: the perfect imperfection! Taking a different perspective or viewpoint sometimes helps to see things more calmly.
3. Less is more: a small gift, thoughtful and from the heart, or simply the gift of time spent together, is sometimes worth more than something expensive, but impersonal.
4. Stay calm: you can’t change certain situations, e.g. waiting in a long queue at the supermarket checkout. If this annoys you, then ask yourself if your annoyance is helping anyone and, if by being annoyed, things will happen faster.
5. Make time for yourself: whether this is strolling round the Christmas market, taking a nice hot bath, attending an Advent concert, meditating or engaging in a snowball fight with friends – treat yourself to some time for yourself and do what you enjoy. Have fun!
6. Gratitude: there are so many things and people for whom we can be thankful. Nowadays we take many things for granted. Take the example of a cup of coffee: how many people were involved in making it possible for you to drink it? Be thankful for the person who grows the coffee, right up to the inventor of the coffee machine. A tip: write down two things every day for which you are grateful. You’ll be amazed at how much abundance you’ve already had in your life.
The CARL GROSS team sincerely wishes you a wonderful Christmas season filled with smiles.