The holiday season, with its many festivities and joyful gatherings, often brings up mixed emotions in many people. While some eagerly anticipate the celebrations, others find themselves grappling with the pressures of family obligations, mounting credit card bills due to holiday shopping, feelings of loneliness, or just increased amounts of stress. For those who experience holiday depression or anxiety ,mindfulness can serve as a powerful ally, offering techniques to reduce stress and provide a sense of tranquility.
Mindfulness is a practice centered around paying attention to the present moment without judging oneself. It encourages individuals to become attuned to their thoughts, feelings, and immediate surroundings. Learning to focus only in the present moment helps to train your mind to see things clearly without worrying about the future or getting stuck in past regrets. Studies have shown that people who have been practicing mindfulness, even for a short time, report increased joy and a sense of well-being.
How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Holiday Season
Each person’s mindfulness practice is a unique journey tailored to their individual needs and situation. Mindfulness is flexible; it can be integrated into your daily life anytime and anywhere. Here are some approaches to begin incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, particularly during the often stressful holiday season. All of these techniques might not be the right fit for you, so try out a few until you find what works for you and brings you a sense of inner peace and serenity.
- Morning Mindfulness: Begin your day by sitting in solitude, immersing yourself in the present moment by focusing on your breathing. Pay attention to the sounds within your home and the surrounding environment, simply observing without judgment. Just exist in the moment and tune into yourself.
- Embrace Nature: Amid the hustle and bustle, take a few moments during the day to step outside for a few deep breaths. Tune into the temperature of the air and the sensation of the sun and wind against your skin. Observe the vivid colors of the plants and the sky around you. You could also embark on a mindful walk. Take a leisurely solitary walk, moving at a slow pace while counting your breaths in tandem with your steps.
- Mindful Movement: Explore the world of mindful movement, such as yoga, which harmonizes physical activity with mental presence and awareness. Mindful movement allows us to check in with our bodies and move in a way that can help lower stress and strengthen our mind-body connection. Focus on each movement, and how your body feels as you move through the movements.
- Body Scan Meditation: A body scan meditation is a mindfulness practice that involves focusing your attention on different parts of your body, typically from your toes up to your head. The purpose of this exercise is to create a deep awareness of physical sensations, tension, and relaxation within each area of your body. You can begin by laying down, and mentally scan your body, observing any discomfort, tightness, or areas of ease without judgment. This practice encourages you to connect with the present moment, fostering a heightened sense of self-awareness. Body scans can help you to manage stress and pain, and they promote overall well-being by helping you tune into the signals your body is sending, which can provide you with greater clarity.
Although mindfulness requires practice and patience, it is a valuable tool that can be applied throughout the year. During the holiday season, do not forget to treat yourself with kindness by engaging in activities that bring you joy, and make mindfulness a consistent component of your quest for year-round peace. By nurturing your mental health and well-being with mindfulness, you can navigate the holiday season with a greater sense of calm and emotional resilience.
If you find yourself needing more support, not just during the holiday season, but at any point throughout the year, services are available through your EAP. Depending on your needs, you might connect with a short-term counselor, use self-directed digital skill-building modules to develop your resilience or manage stress, or explore additional resources in the Uprise Health Member Resource Hub.