Despite our best intentions, it’s far too easy to let the holiday season turn into a frenzy of running rampant trying to fit in all the extra to-dos on your list. While we all wish for a merry and bright holiday, often the stress of scrambling to buy gifts, the hectic pace, and the friction with family or out-of-town guests inhabiting your home takes away from the holiday spirit of goodwill.
To find those cherished moments of peace and reflection, make a point to engage in 20 minutes of Mindfulness each day. Think of this practice as a gift to yourself. It will be tremendously helpful in handling the chaotic schedules and people dynamics during the holidays.
Mindfulness is a way to quiet your mind and become present in the moment with total awareness. It enables you to bring the very best of yourself to holiday gatherings because it calms any anxiety and raises your consciousness. Mindfulness provides you with a feeling of expansiveness that lets you show up fully awake and authentic.
Use these Mindfulness tips in your daily practice through the holidays to help replace stress with tranquility and goodwill:
1. Stop to take focused breaths during your day. When your days are a non-stop succession of back-to-back errands and tasks, it’s critical to take a moment to breathe and regain a sense of serenity. Taking a few conscious breaths will connect you with your inner stillness. Mindfully breathe into your belly or your heart with this simple exercise:
On the inhalation, (silently) count 1234-1.
On the exhalation, count 1234-2.
On the inhalation, count 1234-3.
On the exhalation, count 1234-4.
Repeat to the count of 10.
The more you practice this, the more often you learn to willingly grab a mindful pause whenever you need one. You’ll soon discover how important and helpful it can be throughout the busy-ness of the holidays to pause and breathe.
2. Vow to listen mindfully. You can be very busy and distracted during the holidays, which means you may not be attentively listening to others when they’re talking or asking questions. By making a concerted effort to listen more mindfully, you’re showing friends and family members that their opinions are important to you and that they are worthy of receiving your undivided attention.
3. Let others know you care. The holidays are a time for giving and letting others know that you’re thinking of them. Make sure to provide your undivided attention to those who mean a great deal to you. Take time to ask them about themselves and to find out how they’re really doing. Mindfully be present when you spend time with them so that they know that what matters to them matters to you.
4. Express affection through a thoughtful contribution. Alongside giving gifts to family members and friends, make a contribution to a nonprofit organization on their behalf. If the donation is to a cause that they feel strongly about, all the better. Loved ones will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind your action. It’s a gesture that acknowledges the importance of supporting a pressing need, while honoring those who make your happiness possible.
5. Make a meaningful resolution. As the year comes to a close, it’s a time to look ahead at what you hope to achieve in the coming year. Why not engage family and friends in your personal self-improvement goals — such as a daily Mindfulness practice? It’s often more motivating and energizing to follow through on resolutions when you have others with which to keep you all accountable.
During the holidays — and into the new year — treat yourself to a regular Mindfulness practice. By being more present and aware, especially during the busy and chaotic holidays, you can manage your stress and enjoy the season, while also showing your appreciation for your own well-being and that of others you care about throughout the new year.
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Ora Nadrich is founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity, named among the “top 18 books on what an authentic life looks like” by PositivePsychology, and Mindfulness and Mysticism: Connecting Present Moment Awareness with Higher States of Consciousness. She is a certified life coach and Mindfulness teacher, specializing in transformational thinking, self-discovery and mentoring new coaches. Contact her at oranadrich.com.