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How to Bring Mindfulness Into the Holiday Season

An excerpt from How to Bring Mindfulness Into the Holiday Season by Jennie Mason

Though it’s only taking up a two-month timespan, the holiday season has turned into a year-round mindset. It seems that stores put up decor earlier and earlier each year, and Thanksgiving can barely enjoy its five minutes of fame before the lights are up and trees are decorated. While I’m all for the spirit this time of the year brings, I can feel my cortisol levels rise in October when Christmas deals start popping up.

I’ve already touched on how the holidays can be a stressful time, whether it be family drama or spreading yourself too thin. However, another big component of making sure you are OK during the holiday season is by practicing mindfulness.

Mindful.org defines mindfulness as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” At first glance, that sounds a bit complicated. Modern escapisms like cell phones, drugs, alcohol and streaming services are turning into avoidance crutches. How can we be fully present in this day and age, let alone the holidays?

Turning inward and focusing on mindfulness practices are where most researchers start. Research on mindfulness meditation has seen a huge surge since the ’90s. Currently, Harvard researchers are working on finding if mindfulness meditation is a viable treatment option for depressed patients in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication. If recent studies suggest that mindfulness meditation can ease psychological stressors like anxiety and depression, wouldn’t it be worth a shot to implement into your daily routine?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, winter episodes of seasonal affective disorder (aka SAD) are the most common. During what is already a hectic time of year, your mental health being in a bit of limbo is not the exciting holiday news you want to hear. Mindfulness practice has been shown to help everyone from adults to children and adolescence. I think it’s time we hop on this train, especially during what should be the most wonderful time of the year. Here are some ways to get started:

Engage in Gratitude

It’s likely the person you’re feuding with is one of your blessings. Practice being consciously grateful by writing down each morning five things you are grateful for. It can be a person, your health, pet, home, whatever and then, end the day by writing five things you are grateful for. 

Eat Mindfully

Practice the 5 S’s next time you eat, which are:

Sit Down
Slowly Chew
Savor
Simplify
Smile

Practice Self-Love

By honoring yourself and allowing yourself to feel loved, you are opening up your ability to spread the holiday cheer to people you care about. It can be as simple as getting a full eight hours of sleep or exercising once a day.

Be Open to Both Yours and Others' Emotions

Check in with loved ones and see how they’re doing this time of year. By being attentive and receptive to their feelings, you’re opening up the ability to connect and empathize.

Be an Active Listener

Mindfully take a step back and realize that these people in your lives need someone to talk to. Remove any agenda you have with this person and focus on the present.

Practice Self-Love

We often act like our phone is an extension of our bodies and put its needs before ours. That email or text can wait. Nothing is urgent on social media. Take advantage of the collective break this time of year offers. You’re not better for being a workaholic.

Full Article:


How to Bring Mindfulness Into the Holiday Season


 BY Jennie Mason


Mason, Jennie. “How to Bring Mindfulness Into The Holiday Season.” The Chill Times, 2019, thechilltimes.com/how-to-bring-mindfulness-into-the-holiday-season/.

Director of Strategic Communications

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[nekiesha]

I usually approach the holidays with a varying mixture of excitement and stress. Thankfully I’ve got a practice that helps me keep my emotions in check. This article offers a few of my go to‘s.

Students and Holiday Stress

An excerpt from Managing the Stress of the Holidays.

The Holidays are not a carefree and joyous time for all of our students. For some it means stressful situations with family or missing family, shortages of food, and lack of money meaning no presents under the tree. According to Ruby Payne, it is important to be sensitive to these realities for our students and refrain from asking questions or making assignments based upon the assumption that the holidays are a great, trouble-free time for all. What can you do to help prepare students who might experience stress during the Holidays?

Stick to Routines

Students thrive on routines. It’s o.k. to still have the party and the fun, just try to limit the amount of times that you are shifting from your regular routine. Remember, for the next couple of weeks students will have their regular school routines disrupted by fall and winter breaks.

Create Fun Moments

Create more opportunities for brain breaks, 1-3 minutes a couple different times throughout the day can be very powerful. 

Frequent check-ins with students

Try to spend extra time each day with these students just chatting and letting them know you care.  Offer them opportunities to see the counselor or school psychologist if they want some extra support. 

Share mindfulness and stress reduction techniques

Give students a “chill” pass that lets them take a break when needed.  Breathing exercises, stretching, and exercise opportunities can help reduce stress. 

Full Article:


Managing the Stress of the Holidays


 BY SMOKY HILL EDUCATION SERVICE CENTER


Education Service CenterSmoky , Smoky Hill. “Managing the Stress of the Holidays.” Smoky Hill, 2020, www.smokyhill.org/vnews/display.v/SEC/Programs%20%26%20Services%7CSECD%20Resources.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because although the holidays are the best times of the year for some us, for others it can be incredibly stressful. In the year 2020, I think a lot of us are feeling more holiday stress then normal, so it is important to be considerate of those who are struggling, and bring holiday cheer not through gifts, but through kindness and understanding. 

7 Obstacles to Mindfulness and How to Overcome Them

An excerpt from 10 Challenges Tiny Buddha by Henri Junttila

1.

Mindfulness takes ongoing effort.
Mindfulness takes a lot of work, but the good news is that the longer you practice, the easier it gets and the more joyful your life becomes.

At first, your thoughts will be in chaos, and everything will seem out of control. Your situation will feel helpless, but the more you focus on being fully where you are, the easier it will be to find peace of mind in the moment.

Mindfulness is best practiced throughout your day. It’s not just for when you sit down and meditate. Focus on being mindful of your thoughts when you’re doing everyday tasks and it will be easier to remain mindful when things get tough.

2.

There will always be distractions.
When you’re on your journey to becoming more mindful, it seems as if the universe starts throwing stuff at you just to give you challenges.

The distractions could be problems in your life, drama in your relationships, or old negative beliefs popping up from your past.

These are great opportunities to practice present moment awareness. They will help you become stronger, better, and more in tune with yourself. The problems and challenges we face are teachers in disguise.

They are there to help you grow and to realize who you truly are.

3.

Progress doesn’t always come quickly.
Progress may seem excruciatingly slow. There will be times when you attach to things and situations that you want, which will make it difficult to be fully in the present moment. It’s impossible to be mindful when you’re dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future.

We all do those things sometimes. I’ve experienced it countless times in my own life. The more I want something, the more I fixate on not having it and wanting to get it.

Once I release the attachment and focus on being grateful for what I have in the moment, my life seems to shift, and progress seems to happen naturally.

4.

You may want to give up.
Like with any worthwhile journey, you will feel like giving up and throwing in the towel multiple times.

But it is during the times when you feel most frustrated that you are often on the verge of a breakthrough.

Our lives are very similar to the seasons. We go through cold, dark winters, and joyful, expanding summers. It all comes and goes. It’s the ebb and flow of life.

When you realize that the challenging times are there to help you grow, you will automatically feel more peaceful and relaxed.

5.

Your goals may challenge your mindfulness.
Having goals is fantastic, essential even, but when you become overly attached to them, something bad happens, just like we talked about above.

You know that you’re too attached to something when you start feeling frustrated, angry, and negative.

Attachment muddles our clarity. You’re likely pursuing your goals because you believe they will make you happy. Remember that when you start letting your goals pull you into a stressful state of mind. If you focus on the good things around you, you’ll feel that happiness that you think you need to chase.

This will make you much happier in the long term, and, of course, right now.

6.

You might forget that the journey is the destination.
Most people miss the fact that the reward is in the journey. Have you ever noticed that when you reach a goal, it’s not as exciting as you thought it would be?

Sure, it feels great to hit a milestone, but if you do not replace that goal with another one, you will soon find yourself feeling unfulfilled.

That’s because we are goal-seeking mechanisms. Humans need goals so they can have a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

It is in the journey that we learn, grow, and become better. When you’re practicing mindfulness, remember that there is nowhere to arrive at. If you focus on what is going on right now, the rest take care of itself.

7.

Sometimes you’ll want to be anywhere but in the now.
Even the most enlightened masters on earth have to deal with difficult situations and chaotic thoughts. The difference is they have learned to accept the moment for what it is.

When you do this, you become the guardian of your inner space, which is the only way to feel good inside and find peace of mind right now.

Full Article:


7 Obstacles to Mindfulness and How to Overcome Them


 BY AMANDA LITVINOVBRENDA ÁLVAREZCINDY LONG, AND TIM WALKER


Junttila, Henri. “7 Obstacles to Mindfulness and How to Overcome Them.” Tiny Buddha, 4 Nov. 2020, tinybuddha.com/blog/7-obstacles-to-mindfulness-and-how-to-overcome-them/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because everyone has their obstacles to overcome. Whether they are relatable or personal, it is important to be able to maintain a practice, no matter what issues surface. 

Rachel’s Corner

Well-Wishes

I’m heading into the last week of being with the business I founded just over ten years ago.  I thought this would bring a mixed bag of feelings and emotions.  What I’m finding instead is a sense of – here we go! 

I’ve been focused on making sure the details and pieces I took such care in as I formed my business, receive the same love, time and attention as I make my exit.  It has caused me to go down a bit of memory lane, and as a result, I have a few main takeaways.  They will leave with me, and I’ll leave them with you as well.  

Let your conviction carry you

Notice what you feel convicted in and follow it.  This is exactly what carried me through the forming years of getting started.  Believe me, they weren’t easy ones!  However I had, and have, complete and total faith that I could serve in more meaningful ways, despite the obstacles before me.   Looking back I’ve surprised myself at what was overcome, and realize it was my conviction in finding a better way that drove me, and maybe even in a certain way, protected me.  

Engage with people who are smarter, brighter than and unique from you

My very best decisions in business were to put my shoulders back and ask people who I knew were “better” than me, to work for and with me.  This takes a bit of vulnerability, willingness and honestly, some confidence.  In doing so, I have hired and retained some of the most dynamic, bright and talented people to help guide, build and manage our business with innovative thinking and sound practices.  I’ve learned so much from them along the way, and most are still here today.

Expect the best from others

Have you ever been around someone that is always expecting you to blow it?  And, can you think of the people in your life that hold space for you to show up as your best?  Where and when do you shine the brightest?  Notice what expectations you have of people and adjust where needed.  Regardless of how challenging a relationship or situation may be, to hold space for people to show up with their goodness and possibility invites a higher, better outcome overall.  Most every tangible accomplishment in my life is because of people who held space for me to shine, inviting me to rise to the occasion. 

Adopt a daily practice, or grow deeper in the one you have

Take time each morning (or at least each day) to self-check your thoughts, words and actions, and to be aware if they reflect the integrity of who you see yourself to be.  Take an honest moral inventory for yourself, and set an intention to be show up better next time in areas where you may have fallen short.  Acknowledge the goodness that surrounds you and that is within you.  Simple things are easiest to work with – watching seasons run their course, noticing our breath that is always there, sharing a simple moment with someone you love, watching a sunset...  Practicing with these simple moments that each day offers builds our resilience and stabilizes our body and emotions.


In addition to these reflections, I wish you the best.  May you have peace, may you have good health, and may you be well.

With love and gratitude,

Rachel

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