Just thinking about the holidays may be stressing you out. While it’s a beautiful time of year, the holiday season is filled with extra activities that people need to fit into their already demanding schedules; and that can diminish downtime, leaving us with little time to relax, regroup and actually enjoy the holidays.
High expectations are another source of stress. We long to be happy during the holidays and tend to create unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, if our expectations aren’t met – it can be stressful.
We also might underestimate the time needed for tasks like shopping, cleaning and cooking. Other stressors include money problems and the usual holiday hubbub like traffic, long lines and rude holiday shoppers. So how can you cope with stress amid the holiday hustle? Mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness is paying attention purposely and without judgment to the present. It’s a practice that everyone can develop, every day with everything they do. And it has a significant, soothing impact on stress. Below are three ways you can minimize stress mindfully.
1. Accept that your body will experience stress. For some of us stress may be inevitable, and that’s OK. Experiencing stress isn’t a failure on your part, and “you haven’t done anything wrong.”
2. Create awareness and self-care. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, and use that information to help you make different decisions. For instance, if you’re at a holiday party and feel tired or jittery or you’re worrying about 10 different things. Your automatic response may be to become even more upset and stressed out. Instead, use this knowledge to be compassionate and give yourself what you need in the moment. You might decide to go outside and take a few long breaths, sit down and drink a cup of tea, or, if possible, leave the get-together early, and get some rest. As you grow in awareness, you can make different choices for yourself.
3. Cultivate gratitude. Finding things you’re grateful for in the present moment will shift your perspective in a positive way. No matter how big or small, we can usually find something we’re thankful for. For example, if there’s friction at a family function, be thankful that you’re all alive and able to get together, or be thankful for the delicious food your Aunt made, or that the kids are having fun playing with each other.
We hope you use these techniques and that you enjoy this season of joy, family, laughter and fun!
Happy “mindful” Holidays!