Wanting 1 second for Christmas may sound like an odd wish, but it can mean the difference between having a happy, loving, relaxing break or being arrested.

Let me explain…

It’s been another big year (understatement). Almost everyone I talk to is feeling exhausted and ready for a holiday.

However, this time of year often adds even more expectations on us.

Not only do we feel pressured to get everything done so we can go on leave, but there’s the extra financial burden, needing to pack if you’re travelling, the inevitable getting stuck in traffic, dealing with impatient kids, a frazzled spouse, and the heightened risk of COVID.

Then there’s all the family ‘stuff’ to deal with. While I love mine dearly, I’m reminded of Eckhart Tolle’s quote “If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family”. Need I say more?

To handle the extra pressure the best thing you can do is to regularly stop, press pause and find your 1-second before you yell at the kids, pour red wine over your partner, or turn into the Christmas Grinch!

I mean, wouldn’t that be the best Christmas present ever to yourself and others?

Of course, the best way to make sure you can find your 1 second, is to have a mindfulness practice already built into your daily routine.

Because if you haven’t practised mindfulness during the year, accessing your 1 second can be elusive especially when you need it most!

Yep, just 5-10 minutes of mindfulness meditation is like taking out an insurance policy so no matter what happens, you can find your 1 second.

That said, it’s never too late to start building mindfulness in your life.

Here are my 6 tips for finding and using your 1-second gift over the holidays.

  1. Start the day with a clear intention.

When you wake up, take a moment to set a clear intention for your day. Think about how you want to show up and how you want to act.

Remember, you can’t control other people (damn and blast!!) but you can control how you respond.

Ask yourself, ‘who do I want to be today?’

Calling to mind one or two guiding values like, ‘I want to be loving and kind’ is a good place to start.

Choose your own, then live into them as the day progresses.

  1. Make asking ‘what matters most?’ your mantra.

At any given moment you have a choice. You can choose to respond as the better or the lesser version of yourself.

Stress triggers old neural networks making it easy to react with knee-jerk behaviours that no longer serve you.

And under pressure, it’s normal to want to get rid of any discomfort as quickly as possible, which is why we often don’t make the wisest choices.

Quick fixes might provide short-term relief but usually come with long term consequences.

So when you notice any unpleasant thoughts and emotions arising use your 1 second wisely.

Take a moment to ask yourself, will drinking 2 bottles of chardonnay, stuffing down four different deserts, or arguing your COVID vaccination position is right (and everyone else is an idiot) really help?

It’s okay to indulge in Christmas cheer. Just do it with awareness.

It’s much harder to overdo things when you’re awake and aware (aka present).

  1. Be kind to yourself.

This is often the hardest thing of all.

Perhaps you think you should put everyone else first and that looking after yourself is selfish?

Try using your 1 second to pause and take a breath, tune into your body and ask yourself “what do I need right now?”

You might need to take a walk outside, excuse yourself from the conversation, or go to the bathroom to scream?

When you look after yourself, everything else just seems to magically fall into place.

  1. Schedule in ‘do nothing’ time.

When was the last time you did absolutely nothing?

If you’ve been rushing towards the finish line, multitasking, working long hours and sleeping less, it can be really hard to stop and simply do nothing. In fact, it can feel weirdly uncomfortable.

Use your 1 second to give yourself some tender loving care.

It may surprise you.

  1. Savour the moment.

Trust me, there will come a time (all too soon) when you’d do anything to watch your kids fight over their Christmas presents or see granddad fall asleep on the couch just one more time.

If you use your 1 second wisely – you can expand it into 10, even 20 seconds – and turn those small irritating moments into lifelong joyful memories you can look back on later.

Life is full of little moments we often miss…

6. Gift your 1-second to others

Other people and circumstances can be trying, and I’m not suggesting everyone should be perfect.

But anytime I’ve behaved badly at this time of year I’ve always regretted it later.

Your 1-second pause is really your gift to others because how you respond in that 1 second can make or break relationships.

So, I’m wishing us both a ‘1 second’ Christmas and holiday break.

You won’t find this particular gift under the tree; it’s waiting for you in your heart, always available when you need it.

Just take a moment to reconnect and I look forward to seeing you in 2022.

Wishing you and your whanau a wonderfully mindful holiday period.