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How to Implement a Mindfulness Routine in 2021

An article from Oregon Counseling

This year has forced us to slow down much more than previous years, due to the pandemic. Spending more time at home and not knowing when the world will open up again has meant that we have to live more in the present. However, it’s not always easy to do that. We tend to fill our days with distractions or become so fixated on the past or the future, that we forget to live in the current moment. This is where mindfulness comes in. Here are our tips for creating a mindfulness routine in 2021. 


What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice of the mind and body becoming more fully in tune with the present. It involves having heightened awareness of the “here and now.” Mindfulness can be linked to meditation but it doesn’t always have to involve meditation by any means. It can be any action that roots you to the present and brings peace to the current moment.

Practicing mindfulness can have remarkable benefits. It can help if you are struggling with feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. Mindfulness can also help us if we are having trouble concentrating or are experiencing any negative emotions. Overall, mindfulness can help us curate more self-compassion because we are taking the time to relax and take care of ourselves.


How to Practice Mindfulness

There’s no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. You can try out many different things and see what works best for you. Here are just a few examples of how you can implement mindfulness more into your daily routine in the new year:

  • Do a full body scan. Lie on your back comfortably and focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head. Be aware of each sensation of your body.
  • Focus on your breathing as a mindfulness exercise. Sit comfortably and breathe in your nose and out of your mouth, becoming aware of the tides of your breath.
  • Practice mindfulness while walking by yourself, free of distractions from music or a podcast in your ears. Focus on the experience of walking by being aware of your surroundings and the sensations you feel throughout the walk.
  • Take part in a mindful activity that you enjoy and that roots you in the present. This could be through drawing, journaling, practicing yoga or any other hobby that brings you peace.

Carving out even just five to fifteen minutes a day to focus on a mindfulness practice an have profound effects. We can all set the intention to prioritize being mindful more in the new year, by creating a mindfulness routine for ourselves.


Mindfulness Practice for 2021

To get started practicing mindfulness, here is an exercise from Mindful that can help us transition into 2021:

  • Sit comfortably and gently breathe through your nose and out your mouth.
  • Now, imagine you are breathing in all of 2020 and what transpired for you.
  • Survey your memories as they come in with each breath, and catch glimpses of the year’s highs and lows.
  • Allow yourself to feel the good and the bad, the disappointments and excitements, and everything you’re grateful for from this year.
  • Feel the fullness of the year and then slowly let it go, with a few deep, long exhales.
  • Experience the flow of your breath, how it goes in and out.
  • Next, imagine a field of snow, freshly fallen, pure, and inviting.
  • Ask yourself, what is calling to you this year? Where does your heart long to go? Feel and sense deeply.
  • When you are ready, let your eyes slowly open and welcome a new beginning.

Full Article:


How to Implement a Mindfulness Routine in 2021


Counseling, Oregon. “How to Implement a Mindfulness Routine in 2021.” Oregon Counseling, 17 Dec. 2020, www.oregoncounseling.com/article/how-to-implement-a-mindfulness-routine-in-2021/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because for the upcoming new year, I have realized that it would be beneficial to set goals that are more self-care oriented than the average new years resolutions we are used to making. 

Stress Management to Navigate the Holidays

An excerpt from Managing Stress During the 2020 Holidays by Frank Kim, PhD​​

Depending on your circumstances, how one navigates the pressures and stresses of the holiday season will differ, and would look different for different people. Know yourself, and how you are impacted by stress. We are living through difficult times, and as a consequence we are supposed to be under duress. Acknowledge how you feel, and then do what you can. Be creative and flexible! If you are not able to be present with loved ones, do what you can to connect with them. This can include frequent phone/text communication or Skype/FaceTime. One can even encourage frequent use of social media.

While perhaps not ideal, it is important to create new ways to connect and celebrate traditions. We may not be able to be face-to-face with loved ones and friends, but we are not alone. Perhaps find ways to share experiences and activities over Zoom, such as joint exercise or craft projects. Allow conversations to flow as they would if you were in the same room together. When we participate in shared experience, this becomes part of our personal and relational history, which increases the sense of connectedness.

There are other more general ways to manage the holiday stress. Take time for self-care. This can be as simple as enjoying your morning coffee, or noticing the sunlight streaming through a window. Mindfulness—being in the present moment—even for short periods of time has been shown to be good for one’s mental health. Exercise and hobbies are great ways to feel better. Similarly, deep breathing and muscle relaxation are great ways to reduce the impact of stress

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."

- Audre Lorde -
Feminist Poet and Activist

Remember to Breathe

If you are feeling tense, try this: Rate that tenseness on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being extremely tense/anxious. Then, take several deep breaths and rate the tenseness again. You should notice a decrease, but if you don’t, then do another set. You don’t have to go down to “0” to feel better, but if you build this into your routine, you will notice that it becomes increasingly more effective.


Stressors like the pandemic, racial violence, intolerance of differences, the systemic oppression of marginalized populations, poverty and environmental injustice can significantly impact the lives, livelihood and mental health of individuals, groups and communities. Being aware and taking action can help to mitigate the deleterious impact of these stressors. This might take the form of developing support systems, education or political activism. If feeling overwhelmed, limit exposure and seek support. It’s ok to hit “pause,” take time to breathe, move and find gratitude.

Full Article:


Managing Stress During the 2020 Holidays


 BY Frank Kim, PhD


Kim, Frank. “Managing Stress During the 2020 Holidays.” CU Denver News, 17 Nov. 2020, news.ucdenver.edu/managing-stress-during-the-2020-holidays/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because as much as I personally enjoy the holidays, I know that it's not always a joyous time for all. Even for those who do look forward to them, all of the craziness can be incredibly draining, so it is important to take time for yourself and your mental health.

Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays

An excerpt from 10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays by Meaghan Dunham

While holidays can be a welcome break from assignments and school, this year’s holiday season will look different due to the pandemic. Many families won’t be able to travel or meet in large groups, holiday traditions will be altered, and students may not get to spend time with loved ones. The pandemic has also caused many hardships on families, including financial stress and food insecurity.

Unmanaged stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and can cause harmful physical effects. It can also increase students’ risk of dropping out, substance abuse, and suicide. However, educators can help students learn how to effectively manage and reduce stress..

As an educator, you are in a unique position to provide stability and support to your students and their families during the holidays and these uncertain times. One of the best ways you can help students is by looking after their social-emotional health.

Here are 10 ways to help your students learn effective stress management.

Help students understand what is happening

A simple and age-appropriate conversation about what is going on and why the holidays might look different this year can help alleviate students’ anxiety and stress. Ask students how they are feeling. Listen to them and validate their feelings by telling them it’s ok to feel sad, disappointed, or angry.

Promote a growth mindset

Research shows that a growth mindset can help students maintain a sense of control over their lives and address the cognitive causes of stress within the brain. Growth mindsets allow us to see the world through a lens of growth, which means we have the power to turn our thoughts from a negative focus induced by stress to a positive focus striving toward improvement. Help students develop a growth mindset by teaching them to focus on the positive and view challenges as opportunities for growth, rather than threats.

Encourage students to get enough sleep

Younger children need 10-12 hours of sleep each night and high school students need around eight to nine hours. Talk to students about why getting enough sleep is important for their physical and mental health.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing works just as well for students as it does for adults. It can have a powerful physical effect in reducing tension and relaxing the body — and it can have immediate results. Clinical research shows that regular deep breathing exercises affect the heart, brain, digestion, and the immune system. 

Be a listening ear

Some students don’t have an adult at home who they feel they can turn to in times of need. Encourage students to talk to you about their feelings so you can work through any concerns they may have. Keep the communication going during remote learning through email, online chat, or virtual meeting spaces. If possible, continue your outreach during the holidays so students have someone to turn to if they need help.

Our students’ resiliency has certainly been tested this year. The holidays will bring a new set of challenges, but you can help your students work through these stressful times by teaching them effective stress management skills. We hope these de-stressing tips are helpful to keep you and your students happy and healthy this holiday season!

Full Article:


10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays


 BY Meaghan Dunham


Dunham, Meaghan. “10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays.” Aperture Education, 18 Nov. 2020, apertureed.com/tips-to-manage-holiday-stress-students/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Teachers have so much power in the positive presence they bring into their students' lives. Although the little things may not seem like much, to a student with issues at home, or even the modern student struggling with the 2020 holidays, they can mean the world.

Be Mindful This Holiday Season

An article from the Health Promotion Unit at the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) on HealthyMindsPhilly.org

Across our city, country, and the world, seasonal and religious holidays have not been and will not be the same this year. For many, the coming weeks are always a fragile time of year, and 2020 is certainly no exception.

Sadly, people have lost family members and friends in recent months, some have lost jobs, and most will not be spending holidays together for health and safety reasons. For some, absent friends or family has always made the holidays difficult, but this year, more of us will feel this emptiness. Our lives have been turned upside down, and some have gone from bad to worse.

Whatever your circumstances, it is not at all unusual to feel overly emotional or act differently than you typically would during these uncertain times. While some may be able to “keep calm and carry on,” there’s nothing wrong with not feeling calm or finding it difficult to carry on.

  • Choose not to surrender to negative feelings, accept our situation, learn from it, and find comfort in what we still have.
  • Think back to other harsh challenges we’ve confronted in our lifetime and how we managed to get through those.
  • Give ourselves credit for what we’ve been able to accomplish so far and try to accept what we can and cannot control at this time.
  • Recognize that we are all doing the best we can, and everyone struggles in one way or another.

Remain realistic and still enjoy the present moment. 


  • The holidays don’t have to be perfect- are they ever? Not everything has to be the same as it was in past years.
  • Trying to make things the same, or worse, faultless, will only get the better of you, and you’ll forget that being grateful and hopeful, and if you’re lucky, loved, is what counts. It’s what has always counted

Seek gratitude this holiday season despite our circumstances and appreciate what we can still do.

So what can we do to embrace this year’s holiday season, try to manage our emotions, and carry on?

We can start by accepting that this is a year like no other. We can:

  • We can continue to connect with others outdoors, over the phone, or online.
  • We can send cards and good wishes, practice many familiar religious rituals, cook for others, or assist a person struggling to pay bills.
  • If we are fortunate enough to have a home and plenty of food, we can relax, eat seconds, watch a football game or long movie.
  • We can think of creative ways to stay close and give those who have nothing a helping hand.
  • We can read, donate decorations, play games, and worship virtually. We can try out a new recipe, share stories, and make fantastic plans for next year’s holidays.

We can continue to be thankful and hopeful no matter what our situation, and proud of what we’ve been able to manage so far.

The world is hurting, people are suffering, and we all feel the pandemic’s pain and tomorrow’s uncertainty. Let’s be mindful together and place our thoughts on the good around us. Together we can overcome today’s challenges, enjoy the holidays as best we can, and remain hopeful for a better tomorrow.

Full Article:


Be Mindful This Holiday Season


 BY Maria Boswell, Director, Health Promotion Unit, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS)


Boswell, Maria. “Be Mindful This Holiday Season.” Healthy Minds Philly®, 1 Dec. 2020, healthymindsphilly.org/en/blog/be-mindful-this-holiday-season/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because much like many others this holiday season, I am facing the sadness of abnormality during what would normally be time spent with family and friends. Although being apart is the responsible decision, it doesn't make it any less difficult. Throughout this process, it is important to take a moment to be thankful for all of the moments we do have. 

4 Mindful Tips to De-Stress This Holiday Season

An excerpt from 10 Challenges Facing Public Education Today

ot feeling particularly cheery this time of year? You’re not alone. Many find that the holidays bring as much stress as they do joy. But there are ways to ease through the season. To help make the most of your festivities, Neda Gould, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Mindfulness Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, shares some mindful tips.

What is mindfulness? “Mindfulness is bringing your attention to the present moment with an element of nonjudgment and acceptance. It is noticing when we get caught up in thoughts about the past or the future, and returning our attention to the present — the only reality,” explains Gould.

While mindfulness can be a formal meditation practice, there are also informal ways to practice this skill. This can give us perspective and decrease stress.

Gould shares four ways to make your holidays brighter:

Accept Imperfection

Can good be good enough? “As we gear up for the holidays, we often set the bar impossibly high for ourselves and then feel upset when our celebrations don’t live up to expectations,” says Gould.

Before you start preparing, acknowledge that things may not go exactly as planned. “It’s OK if it’s not perfect. Imperfection is healthy and normal. For some of us, it might just take a little practice,” reminds Gould.

Don’t Lose Sight of What Really Counts

With long lines and nasty traffic, the holidays can get hectic. When overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, ask yourself:


  • Where does this fit in the grand scheme of things? If you’re frustrated by the long grocery line you’re standing in, remember that it is just a long grocery line — nothing more. Don’t let it spoil your afternoon.
  • Can I use this moment of frustration as an opportunity to reflect? While the cashier rings up the customers ahead of you, take inventory of the good things that have happened today or the things you are grateful for.
  • Even if this moment seems stressful, can I find a way to make it pleasant? Connect with someone else in line with a compliment or kind gesture, or notice what’s around you with fresh eyes and an open mind.

Respond with Kindness

You can’t change how others act during the stresses of the holiday season, but you can change how you respond to situations:

  • “Whenever I encounter a difficult person, I tell myself, ‘this person is suffering, and that’s why they’re acting this way.’ It softens my frustration, helps me be more compassionate and reminds me that it’s not personal,” says Gould.
  • Keep in mind that the holidays are especially difficult for those who are alone. See if you can extend an act of kindness to those you know are without family and friends during this time of year.
  • If things do get tense with someone, take a few deep breaths. “Those few breaths can shift things and give you new perspective,” says Gould.

Rethink Your Resolutions

“Typical New Year’s resolutions set you up for failure,” warns Gould. If you want to better yourself in the New Year, follow these tips for success:


  • Start small. Break your goal into tinier steps over the course of the year. If weight loss is your goal, it doesn’t have to be drastic. Try to eat more veggies during your first month and gradually cut back on sweets throughout the next, suggests Gould.
  • Be kind to yourself. If you didn’t achieve last year’s resolution or stray from the path this time around, let it go. “We often contrive these stories (‘I’m never going to quit smoking!’) that only add to our distress,” says Gould. “With practice, we can notice this self-critic, let go of that negativity and pick our goals back up without the guilt or shame.”

Respond with Kindness

You can’t change how others act during the stresses of the holiday season, but you can change how you respond to situations:

  • “Whenever I encounter a difficult person, I tell myself, ‘this person is suffering, and that’s why they’re acting this way.’ It softens my frustration, helps me be more compassionate and reminds me that it’s not personal,” says Gould.
  • Keep in mind that the holidays are especially difficult for those who are alone. See if you can extend an act of kindness to those you know are without family and friends during this time of year.
  • If things do get tense with someone, take a few deep breaths. “Those few breaths can shift things and give you new perspective,” says Gould.

Full Article:


4 Mindful Tips to De-Stress This Holiday Season


 BY NEDA GOULD


Gould, Neda. “4 Mindful Tips to De-Stress This Holiday Season.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/4-mindful-tips-to-destress-this-holiday-season.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because as much as I personally enjoy the holidays, I know that it's not always a joyous time for all. Even for those who do look forward to them, all of the craziness can be incredibly draining, so it is important to take time for yourself and your mental health.

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