Practicing Mindfulness During The Holiday Season
Booze-filled gatherings, work parties and hectic travel – the holidays are a special kind of chaos, but you can stay calm with some conscious effort.
The holidays are a time for generosity, joy and cheer. So why do we often feel completely depleted this time of year? Between busy households and the stress of finding the perfect gift to answering personal questions from well-meaning family members, the stretch between Thanksgiving and the New Year can stress out even the most grounded of people.
A bit of mindfulness this holiday season can temper those feelings of anxiety. By purposefully slowing down, you can stay happy and healthy, and – dare we say it? – actually enjoy the celebrations.
“Mindfulness is all about being in the moment,” says Amy Kuretsky, licensed acupuncturist and wellness coach. “By focusing on the present and not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future, we’re better able to navigate the ups and downs of life without getting overwhelmed.”
“So often we get caught up in analyzing old patterns and negative stories, and we think we’ve moved past them – that is until we’re confronted with them head-on during the holidays.”
The best way to start practicing mindfulness is through your breath, explains Kuretsky.
“Breath-work helps us bypass the brain and stimulate healing from the inside out,” she adds. “[It’s] a type of active meditation that helps draw your attention away from the thinking brain.”
Body scans – a quick meditation that helps you notice sensations in your body – and yoga, with its breath-body connection, are also great tools, says Kuretsky.
There are plenty of free, guided meditation apps and videos online, but you also can start with practice in its simplest form: Inhale to a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four and then exhale for a count of four. Repeat until you feel centered, grounded and at-ease.
Continue Your Morning Ritual
Now is not the time to give up your healthy morning routines. If anything, the holidays should be the break that you need to truly prioritize self-care.
“When I engage in rituals and mindfulness practice in the mornings, it sets the tone for the rest of my day,” says Dimple Mukherjee, occupational therapist and life coach. “Morning rituals are a great way to get you present, grounded and rooted before you enter any gathering.”
She continues: “Carve out time daily, even if it’s just 10 minutes, to engage in rituals that will anchor and root you, reduce stress, and allow you to be present to the joy that the holiday has to offer. If we are rooted in our core, it’s hard to shake that strength.”
Your ritual may be meditation, journaling, reading, walking, exercising gratitude, praying or even drawing a daily Tarot card. Whatever you do, make sure it’s an opportunity to quiet your mind, look within and relax.
Give Yourself The OK To Take A Time-Out
If you’re feeling overwhelmed during the annual Thanksgiving dinner, don’t be afraid to slip away for some respite.
“Overwhelm is common during chaotic family get-togethers,” says Kuretsky. “It’s easy to numb the chaos with a booze-filled drink or two, but alcohol actually disconnects us from our body and our emotions. [It] makes it harder to truly access any sort of inner calm.”
Quietly slipping away for a “breathing break” – like a smoke break without the cigarettes – clears off any negative energy and helps you re-focus.
“It’s important to know your personal energetic threshold,” she says. “Voice your needs before that threshold has been crossed.”
Do What Works For You
“Seated meditation is one of the most common mindfulness practices, but for many people a seated practice can feel frustrating or hard on the body,” explains Kuretsky. “I often recommend a movement-based mindfulness practice like a walking meditation.”
“Something as simple as going for a walk in your neighborhood without distraction allows you to better focus on your surroundings and really feel the sensations in your body in that moment.”
Jessica Willingham is a copywriter for creatives and brands. She helps small business owners organize and share their ideas, so they can grow their dreams and make more money. Jessica co-owns Rarest Fortune, a branding studio. Find her on Instagram @jesswcreative.