How to Be Mindful During the Holidays

Three Methods:Releasing Holiday StressLearning to Slow DownAppreciating the Small Things

The holidays can be busy and stressful. You may forget to slow down and appreciate the precious moments that make holidays special. With the rush of family get-togethers, traveling, and trying to please everyone, it can be an overwhelming time for you and your loved ones. Take time to reduce your stress. Learn to slow down and focus on the present. If you get caught up the rush of the holidays, remember to grateful for what you have.

Method 1
Releasing Holiday Stress

  1. 1
    Practice mindful breathing. Breathing exercises can help to focus your thoughts away from the stresses of your life. By paying attention to the simple act of your breathing, you are better able to clear your mind and focus on the present. Through different acts of meditation, you can help to calm the mind during the holidays.[1]
    • Use breathing exercises to help you concentrate. By focusing on your breath, you can reduce your mind's distracting thoughts.
    • Meditation exercises can help to release tension from the body. For example, when you breathe in, say to yourself, "I am aware of my body." Then breathe out and say to yourself, "I release the tension from my body." Repeat multiple times throughout the day.
    • Deep breathing can help to reduce anxiety in stressful situations. When you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and hold it for five seconds, then exhale slowly for five seconds. Do this ten times or until you feel relief.
  2. 2
    Get rest and take breaks. While you may be "playing host" to a large gathering of family and friends, understand that your body and mind need rest. Leave yourself time each day to do nothing. Make sure to give yourself at least seven hours of sleep each night.[2]
    • Set aside time to sit and do nothing. If you're sitting on the couch and everyone is watching TV, close your eyes and rest for 5 minutes.
    • Avoid making plans or doing chores right before bed. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to wind down when heading to bed. Avoid your phone, computer, and TV during this time.
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    Laugh and have fun. Participate with your friends and family when they're having fun. Laughter can reduce stress and make you feel better. Lightening up about stressful or negative thoughts can make you happy and more present in the moment.[3]
    • Having fun and spending time with family is what the holidays are all about.
    • When your friends or family are having a good time, focus your attention on this even when you're busy. Prioritize these special moments.

Method 2
Learning to Slow Down

  1. 1
    Avoid the rush when traveling. Traveling can be stressful and difficult during peak holiday times. Consider ways to travel during off-peak times during the holiday. Give yourself plenty of time. While the weather may make things difficult, focus on the journey rather than the destination.[4]
    • Avoid being impatient when traveling. Avoid negative talk. Focus on how you can making your travel time fun.
    • If traveling with friends or family, use this time to do games or activities together. Help your loved ones to see the act of traveling as part of the holiday experience. Bring small, travel-size games that you can play with your kids, friends, or family.
    • Plan ahead for "down times" when travel is slow or there is a delay.
  2. 2
    Be an active listener. Minimize distractions by making conversations a priority. Don't have televisions, computers, phones, and other things on when you're trying to connect with your loved ones. Focus your eyes on the person talking, and pay attention to their body language.[5]
    • By giving your full attention, you are being present and communicating that you care.
    • Allow your loved ones to speak. Avoid interrupting them frequently. Engage in the moment by putting aside other activities in order to focus on them.
    • Show them that you're listening by nodding or asking questions about what they're saying. If it's a difficult topic of conversation, make them feel loved by saying, "I appreciate you sharing that with me."
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    Eat mindfully. During the holidays, one of the main activities with friends and family is eating--lots of eating. This may be a special time where you eat some of your favorite dishes. While it's important to enjoy good food with friends and family, it's also important to savor each dish. Avoid stuffing yourself with sweets and fatty foods, just because they're there. [6]
    • Slow down when eating. Enjoy each bite. Put your fork down while chewing. Give your body time to tell your brain that you're feeling satisfied.
    • Make eating an event rather than mindlessly snacking in front of the TV or while talking on the phone. When people are gathered together for the holidays, each meal can feel special in this way.
    • Don't force yourself to eat a lot just because there is a lot of food being served. Fill your plate with smaller portions. Be present by choosing smaller amounts and filling up less often.

Method 3
Appreciating the Small Things

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    Be grateful. Avoid dwelling on the negative aspects of the holidays. Though you may be confronted with stresses, there are likely an equal number of things to be grateful for. Practice gratitude by being aware of what you have, rather than what you don't. [7]
    • Take a short break during the day, and close your eyes. Think about three things that you are grateful for in your life. They don't need to be big things. Sometimes it's the smallest things that stick with you.
    • Share what you're grateful for. Some holidays, such as Thanksgiving, are built around the idea of giving thanks. Remember this on all the holidays you share with loved ones.
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    Show kindness. Holidays can be hectic. People may act negative due to high expectations for family gatherings. Shoppers may feel stress with holiday costs, or wishing they could have more. Some people may feel isolated or depressed without their loved ones.[8]
    • Smile and be present during these tough times. Show that you care through the act of paying attention to someone else's hurt. Be empathetic.
    • Trying putting yourself in the shoes of someone who's having a tough time. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
  3. 3
    Love yourself and your loved ones. Being mindful is focusing on our thoughts and feelings without judgment. Loving yourself and others is about acceptance. Turn your thoughts away from guilt, envy, pain, or anger. Instead see what it means to be present and to take full account of this living, breathing moment.[9]
    • By loving and caring for yourself, you will be better able to love and care for others.
    • Do things that fill your soul with love. This may be as simple as sitting out on the porch and waiting the sunset with your family, or building a fire when it's cold outside. Do activities that make you happy.
    • Turn your thoughts to the positive things you love about yourself and those around you. Think of at least three things that make you feel good about yourself.

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Categories: Calming Techniques | Christmas Spirit