Mindfulness during the holiday season

The holiday season is a mixed bag for lots of people. I personally love lots of things about the holiday season. I love the energy, some of the chaos, I love being around family, traditions, the social gatherings and parties and my birthday of course. Although there is much good, I also know that holiday travel is stressful for me, lack of quiet time can drain my energy. If I am in a particularly tough or lonely space, this season can certainly amplify it. Prolonged periods of time away from structure and my typical ways of eating and exercising can have their effect on me if I’m not aware.

What I’ve learned about myself is that I tend to get swept away in all the energy and chaos and it’s really easy to lose connection with myself in the process. If I am not connected with myself, my connection with others suffers also.

Enter in mindfulness– a cliche word that gets thrown around almost as much as self-care. When I refer to mindfulness, I am not talking about being the little Buddha sitting on the mountaintop not phased by anything. I am not talking about being in a state of constant peace and serenity. I am not talking about doing it always, and doing it perfectly. These things are unrealistic and a set up for failure.

What I am talking about when I refer to mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness. It’s not a constant state, rather something to practice…over and over again! It’s noticing when we are triggered, noticing our thoughts about situations we are in and noticing and appreciating the tender moments. It’s not meant to create a certain state of being, rather, it’s meant to help us be aware of what is going on each moment.

For me, mindfulness equates to deliberate actions and ways of interacting with myself and with others. It’s a time out from the busyness of the season. Sometimes all I need is a 20 second time out, but that can shift a lot for me and enable me to actually be present to all that is going on.

Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, says, “between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom.” In other words, there’s a moment of choice before we react to stress and pain in life. However, for most of us, we’re unaware of this space “between stimulus and response” because we get caught in habitual patterns of reacting to life. Mindfulness techniques help us become aware of our habitual patters of responding and with practice give us more awareness of these habitual reactions and helps us relate to ourselves in a new way to interrupt this cycle and create more choice in life.

These practices may be simple, but that doesn’t mean they are “easy”. Again, it’s a choice and an intention to practice being mindful and aware from moment to moment. For me, I try to practice mindfulness throughout the day:

10 deep breaths when I wake up

A short walk- feeling the cold against my skin or the warmth of the sun on my face

Noticing my thoughts instead of attaching to them

Connecting with my 5 senses to help ground myself

Writing down something at the end of the day that I am grateful for

Writing down an intention for the day before I get out of bed

Taking a one minute time out to breathe when I am emotionally triggered

I realize that doing these things takes some commitment. But my life, my overall health, my experiences,  my growth and self-awareness and my connections to myself and others, are so much richer and more meaningful when I practice taking moments of mindfulness amidst the chaos of the holiday season.

How will you commit to practicing mindful moments this holiday season?


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