With office parties, lights to strung, presents to wrap, and eggnog to drink, focusing on moment-to-moment experiences may seem like a resolution best saved for the new year. Don’t despair if you’re feeling overwhelmed (and a little stressed) about the approaching events with friends and family. We’ve compiled a list of the best mindfulness ideas to get you through the holidays.
Develop your mindfulness skills:
You must first learn how to flex this powerful muscle before you can instruct yourself to be mindful. Dr. Howard Jacobson, cofounder of WellStart Health, believes that practise allows you to acquire the ability to be mentally present.
He tells She Knows, “You don’t obtain it by wishful thinking or shame yourself.” His advice is to pull yourself back when you sense you’ve wandered off in your mind, and then do it again and again.
Pay attention to your body:
Mindfulness isn’t only something you think about. You must also be conscious of what is happening in your body. “Your breathing, muscular tension, and posture are all gateways to a thoughtful and conscious state,” says Jacobson. The more you listen to your body and trust its instincts, the more your body will alert you when you’ve fallen into a state of mindlessness. He suggests that you repeat this simple activity:
- Take a moment to notice how your breath rises and falls. Check to see whether it alters in any manner as a result of your attention. Check to see whether you’re carrying any unnecessary stress in your neck, arms, tummy, or legs.
- Allow these parts of your body to unwind.
- Take note of your posture and see if it wants to adjust to a more relaxed or comfortable stance.
Deal With Discomfort:
Uncomfortable feelings, both physically and mentally, are common during the holidays. We often check out and distract ourselves with food, electronics, and other addictions, according to Jacobson. Rather than stepping away, he advises staying with the discomfort.
“The more willing we are to experience,” he continues, “the more present we may be when negative feelings occur.” Are you unsure how to proceed? This mindfulness activity, according to Jacobson, should be tried.
- Find a thought that makes you feel two on a scale of one to ten (with 10 being awful). Consider an approaching family lunch with those relatives with whom you don’t get along (assuming that’s a two for you rather than a heart-racing 11).
- Hold that thought in your mind and take a slow, deep breath. Take note of where in your body you are experiencing discomfort as a result of the thought. Keep going for a half-minute.
- Try it again tomorrow with a thought that makes you feel three on the discomfort scale. Continue to push yourself until there are no more thoughts you can’t stand.
Eat with awareness:
The holidays are an excellent time to practise mindful eating. In fact, Dr. Honore Lansen, a physician at One Medical, tells SheKnows that sharing a meal with family and friends might help us eat more slowly and fully engage our senses.
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She continues, “Savoring flavours and recognising tastes makes eating more delightful and allows us to be more intentional in our decisions.” “Eating thoughtfully makes us feel more content, which reduces overeating and subsequent guilt,” adds Lansen. The holidays are an ideal time to work on reestablishing a positive relationship with food.
A psychologist and director of mindfulness programming at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, advises SheKnows that if holiday celebrations get stressful, endure the cold and take a mindful minute to stroll outside to appreciate the energising sensations of nature.
“Observe how your senses of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch are stimulated in the winter,” she says. “The gentle touch of falling snow, the soothing warmth of your jacket against the brisk breeze, the fragrance of winter air, the crunch of snow under your boots — these are sensations that will raise your mood as you experience being outside and actually [being] present in the moment,” says the author.
As a pick-me-up, unwind in warm bubble tubs, light some candles, or luxuriate in hydrating face masks during the winter. Smiley claims that the most basic kind of self-care is literally just a breath away.
“Look for products with seasonal aromas, such as pine or spice, to help lift your spirits,” she advises. “One moment at a time, taking many deep, soft breaths and practising mindful breathing with a slow, complete inhalation and a relaxed release while letting go of thoughts will cleanse the mind and calm the body.”
Take a meditation break:
Meditation can help you reduce stress and enhance your mood on a regular basis, which is especially crucial around the holidays. The best thing about meditation is that it can be done anywhere and at any time.
Lansen explains, “It’s all about cueing into your environment.” Pause for a moment and listen to the sounds around you. It counts as meditation even if you’re on the subway. If you need more support, Lansen suggests downloading one of the many free guided meditation applications available. These apps can help you focus your thoughts and efficiently de-stress.
Focus on you:
It’s challenging to focus on yourself during the holidays, but Celeste Viciere, a licenced mental health counsellor, advises SheKnows to make a clear plan that involves doing something just for you.
“This plan should be written down and kept somewhere you can view it on a frequent basis,” she advises. Reading, deep breathing, going for a walk, and taking a lunch break are all instances of simple self-care. “Starting a habit like this before the holidays can also help you manage stress from a hectic holiday schedule,” she says.