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