Mindfulness Tips for the Holidays
Getting together with the family during Thanksgiving and Christmas has the potential to throw any sane human being out of whack. The combination of excited expectations, the constant presence of many personalities, and a regular routine gone rogue can make it near impossible to fit in a regular meditation practice, and can be a challenge for even the most ‘zenned-out’ individual.
The key to combating the crazy and making it into the New Year feeling fresh and ready to take on your resolutions is to incorporate some fast and simple mindfulness tools into your everyday activities- without adding to the overwhelm that comes naturally with the season.
The Nirvana Mind Team have put together their five favourite tips to help you thrive through Thanksgiving and prepare for Christmas.
1. Let go of expectations
Let’s face it; we all wish our families were perfect and could fulfil our personal wishes for gatherings where everything goes according to our desired storybook plan. Then life gets in the way, we feel disappointed in people or situations, and suddenly the holidays don’t look quite the way we want them to.
Most of our stress comes from worrying about future ‘what-if’s’ and how things might turn out. Instead of creating more anxiety for yourself in this way, try to remain completely present in the moment with the reality of what comes up. Roll with the punches, and celebrate all the great moments with the people that you love.
2. Practice gratitude
The holiday season has the potential to get messy, and as the human brain naturally tends to pick up more on the negative aspects of situations, it can be easy to spend too much time dwelling over where things may have gone wrong.
Take five minutes each morning or evening to either write or make a mental note of the moments, people and occurrences that you feel grateful for. This could be as simple as a deep belly laugh or as big as a wonderful gift you have received from a loved one. Either way, you will find that your positivity gets an immediate boost.
You can take this one step further and get the whole family involved- take time to all sit down together and have each person share the things they are grateful for with everybody.
3. Connect to your breath
We all fall into patterns of shallow breathing on a regular basis. When you take deep, slow breaths, you are helping your body by providing greater oxygen flow to the brain which reduces anxiety levels, increases pleasure-inducing neurochemicals to the brain, elevates mood and decreases physical pain.
When things are getting out of hand, pause for a moment and become completely conscious of your breathing. Inhale through your nose as deeply as you can while counting to five. Hold for a few seconds and then release the breath fully through your mouth, and imagine all stagnant energy and negativity leaving the body. Repeat this a few times until you feel calm and at peace.
4. Incorporate mindfulness into your chores
There’s usually plenty of cooking, cleaning and sorting tasks that come up over the festive season. Bringing mindfulness into these tasks not only provides you with all the peaceful benefits of meditation, but it will also make your chores far less boring!
Research shows that if we are 100% present with an activity, we naturally enjoy it much more. So when you are basting that turkey, or washing up a huge pile of dishes, instead of wishing it would all be over as fast as possible, take time to really connect with the scents, sounds, sensations and sights involved in the process, and it’s guaranteed to bring about a positive experience.
5. Develop self-awareness and self-love
Be present with the thoughts and feelings that arise for you throughout your day. If you are feeling tired and stressed out, the best thing you can do for you and your family and friends is to take care of your needs. Treat yourself to a nice relaxing bubble bath, take a walk or a nap, or step outside for some fresh air.
Often we think that just trying to ‘get through it’ and trying to cater to other people’s needs is the best way to manage, but it’s important to know that it’s far more likely that you will avoid burnout and able to participate in celebrations fully if you ditch the people-pleasing and get enough R&R to sustain you over the holidays.