How to Be Mindful During the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, and even more so when you are in charge of hosting a holiday party, having family stay with you, are experiencing financial restraints, have a lot of responsibilities, or are on dialysis.

This can all take away a lot of the joy of the holiday season, no matter which holiday your family celebrates. But with mindfulness, you can learn how to let the unnecessary stresses go, and live in the moment. It allows you to really appreciate every moment you are given throughout the holidays and finally enjoy yourself again.

What is Mindfulness?

It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t! Mindfulness is simply the act of focusing on the present moment you are in. You take out the judgment, regret, or guilt, and simply accept what is. The more you can be mindful during the holidays (and the rest of the year), the more grateful and stress-free you become.

1. Why Mindfulness During the Holidays Can Be Difficult

Mindfulness is a wonderful practice year-round, and is something everyone can benefit from no matter what they are dealing with. But during the holidays, there are even more ways it can help you.

Why the Holidays Are Such a Challenge

Why are holidays so stressful? It seems like it would be a joyous time to spend with your family, but the opposite is often true. You are trying so hard to make everything perfect and give your children memories they can cherish, that you lose yourself (and your sanity) along the way.

Understanding where the stress comes from helps you to know where to focus on improving your mindfulness this time of year.

There is a lot to do – And often with very little time. You still have your other responsibilities on top of the numerous things you have to juggle during the holidays.

Financial issues – Many people do feel the struggle of figuring out how to pay for decorations, gifts, parties, traveling, and other holiday expenses.

The expectations are different from reality – Even after you work hard to make everything perfect, it doesn’t always turn out how you planned. This is where mindfulness really comes in handy.

Ways Mindfulness Can Help You

Being more mindful during the holidays helps you with all of this and more. It allows you to stay present and put all of those expectations aside so you can just enjoy the moments you get with your family.

You learn to accept the moment – Every moment you live is a gift. Sure, it might not always be what you expect, but during the holidays, it isn’t about being perfect. It is about enjoying yourself, being with family and friends, and having more gratitude for what you have in your life.

Mindfulness helps you slow down – Taking a pause through mindfulness is one of the best things you can do to stay present during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Memories are treasured – If you constantly are just thinking about the next thing you need to do during the holidays, it will be hard to hold on to these memories. Do you want to remember the holidays as a time you spent with your loved ones, or when you were so busy you missed out?

2. How to Stay Present in the Middle of Chaos and Stress

It seems almost impossible, doesn’t it? Looking beyond everything you are dealing with this holiday season, learning to let go, and take the stress away. To be present in every moment. But with just a few simple techniques and mindset shifts, you can be more mindful during the holidays.

Practice Beforehand

If you have a little time before the holidays begin, it is a great time to start practicing your mindfulness habits. This doesn’t require anything more than just sitting quietly and focusing on whatever you are doing at that time. It might mean being quiet during a meal, sitting in your bedroom at night and pondering how you feel at that time, or being mindful while taking a walk.

Release Judgment

A very big part of mindfulness is letting go of judgment and guilt. This is not just releasing judgment on others, but yourself, and the situations you find yourself in during the holiday season. Stop worrying about how you look, if the food is good enough, if the venue is perfect, what others are experiencing. These thought patterns are negative and going to make it very difficult to be mindful and appreciate the present moment.

Have Mindful Meals

Mindfulness can work during any event or experience you have during the holidays, but a great time to practice it is while having meals with others. It can be your family holiday meal, at a party, or just at home to de-stress.

During your meals, shut off all distractions. This means no phone, no TV, and no music. Sit quietly and think about how you feel right then, during your meal. Focus on the flavors, the colors, the textures of what you are eating. Consider how you are feeling.

Eat without judgment, guilt, or any other emotions that doesn’t add to the satisfaction of that meal.

Take a Pause

Being mindful is nothing more than taking a pause. It is so easy to get wrapped up in what you should have done, what you still have to do, what is or isn’t perfect during the holidays. When you find your mind wandering instead of enjoying time with family or friends, just take a pause. Sit for a few minutes alone in the quiet and bring yourself back to this moment.

Focus on the Moment, Not the Big Picture

Lastly, remember to focus on the present, not the big picture. It isn’t about having the perfect Christmas memory, but each little thing that made your Christmas memorable.

3. Using Mindfulness After the Holidays are Over

Once you have mastered being mindful during the stressful holiday season, it will become even easier to use it during the rest of the year. Starting with the new year! Here are some ways to keep being mindful after the holidays and into the new year.

Using Mindfulness for Your Resolutions

Before the new year begins, you will probably choose some resolutions. These are goals you want to focus on in the year ahead. It is a wonderful time to feel like you get a fresh start, a new beginning. But it is also really important that you understand what you really want, and what your passions are, not just what you think is expected for you.

This is where mindfulness is going to be really useful.

Think of the moment right now – What are you thinking about the most in this moment? What is bringing you joy? What is stressing you out? Being mindful NOW is what can help you figure out what resolutions will help you in the future.

Keep being non-judgmental and non-critical – Mindfulness takes a lot of the judgment and critical thinking about yourself, your past, and your choices out, reducing your stress and just allowing you to make mistakes without regret. Keep doing this and you think of goals for the year and try to remember what makes you happy, not what you feel you need to do to “make up” for mistakes of the past.

Being Mindful Year-Round

After the holidays are over and the year has begun, keep taking pauses, enjoying your moments, expressing gratitude, and just enjoying your life. The more you can be mindful during each of those moments in your life, the happier you will be.

Managing Your Mental State

(When Times Are Tough) or (Through Adversity)

Managing your mental state is an ongoing and complex job. There are so many things that can negatively affect us daily. Ranging from small inconveniences to larger, more involved problems. Our state of mind is a compilation of our past, present and future thoughts and feelings. When times are tough, whatever the reasons may be, managing your mental state is more important than ever.

Self awareness is first when it comes to managing mental state. When you understand how you feel, where those feelings are coming from and why you have those particular feelings, then can you begin to manage your mental state. This is much easier said than done for most people and that’s perfectly normal. A counselor or psychologist may be able to help you understand your feelings more in depth. Talking with someone objective to help put your feelings in perspective is extremely beneficial as well. Once you identify why you feel a certain way, you can begin to understand your feelings and manage them in a positive way.

Mindfully breathing is a powerful calming tool.  Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth will slow heart rate and curb anxiousness. Moreover, meditation will aid in clarity of mind. Fifteen minutes per day to sit in silence and clear your head does wonders for your mental state. Positive affirmations also enhance one’s state of mind. Positive affirmations are positive phrases you repeat to yourself daily. Try talking to yourself in the mirror in the morning. Tell yourself things like, “I am confident.” or “I am relaxed and at peace.” These positive affirmations will sink into your subconscious mind. Over time, you will start to believe the positive statements you have repeated to yourself. You can change your cognitive patterns away from negative thinking.

Don’t give in to the quick fix of self medication. Using alcohol or drugs is not uncommon when people want to make themselves feel better. But when faced with adversity, adding mind altering substances will enhance negative feelings. Stay sharp and in tune with yourself. So that you are able to be positive and consciously manage your feelings.

Staying on top of your mental health is not an easy task. When faced with challenges throughout life, remember there are tools that can be utilized. Actively managing your mental state will result in a more self aware, calm and happier you.

Where to Get Your Coloring Pages

If adult coloring seems somewhat juvenile to you, then you’re missing the value in this wonderful hobby and artistic endeavor. It’s fun to do, allows you to be creative and to relax. Here are some ideas for getting coloring pages if you don’t want to use an adult coloring book.

Crayola Takes on Higher Learning

There is science behind coloring for adults, and even the famous Crayola brand is excited about the social trend. Last summer, the crayon brand introduced special markers, colored pencils and their own label of Coloring Escapes for grown-ups. Department stores like Kohl’s and Target both sell the coloring pages in sets.

For example, you receive a boxed kit that contains 25 sheets of detailed line art on heavy-weight paper stock with 40 fine line markers in a gorgeous vibrant palette. The kit features an array of nature, patterns, mandalas and geometric designs to enhance.

Adult Coloring Is Really Brain Power

Crayola gets it and has understood the benefits of coloring for decades. The research agrees. News network CNN explored the new trend and reported that adult coloring provides excellent therapy that is as good as meditating and shutting the brain down. It’s a calming exercise that can reduce anxiety, stress, create focus and allow for self-expression.

Coloring for adults is different from plain old doodling, and the science shows that doodling did not bring tranquility to a situation. Coloring in a book, however, does offer serenity and brain restoration and mental benefits.

Adult Coloring Pages Are Plentiful

Adult coloring has exploded onto the scene, and you can find these de-stressing pages mainly online for free to download. There is an abundance to choose from. Online art stores like Fabercastell.com offer a large selection for finding the ideal coloring pages. For example, adults can focus on coloring fairies, intricate Mehndi patterns, peacock designs, fashion illustrations, flowers and nature.

The subject matter of coloring pages for adults is almost infinite. To look up anything on line to color write in the topic followed by the words coloring pages. Remember not all pages are free to copy, so you may spend some time looking.

https://www.justcolor.net/

https://www.crayola.com/free-coloring-pages/adult-coloring-pages/

https://www.art-is-fun.com/free-adult-coloring-pages

Sexy, Naughty Coloring Is Mature

Social media sites like Pinterest.com offer another look at the adult trend and offer free coloring pages for a mature audience. Yes, there are swear word coloring books that have become insanely popular. Humor is always welcome, and these clever pages are filled with elegantly written profanity that is accompanied by some fabulous, detailed artwork.

Many find these bad word pages a joy to fill in, express what you might be thinking, relax and have a hearty laugh. Folks who like these coloring pages often buy the coloring books to give in swag bags, as gift swaps, at birthdays and more.

Coloring books have even appeared at the 99 cent stores in the book section. It does not cost a lot to get started coloring. Relax your mind and destress with a crayon in hand.

What to Use for Adult Coloring

As a child, coloring was just a fun learning activity. Adults have come to realize that coloring has many soothing benefits in a world full of stresses. Relaxing with a coloring book is simple. Grab a child’s coloring book from the dollar store, open a fresh box of crayons and begin. If you want a more adult feeling when you color, here are some suggestions that may help:

Coloring Page Choices

You don’t have to settle for a juvenile coloring book. Today there are fantastic adult coloring books with geometric patterns, beautiful pictures and intricate designs. Choose a wonderful geometric design and color each repeating block a different color. Decide to create repeating color schemes (squares are blue, circles are orange) or do a picture in all pastel colors. The choice is completely up to you – whatever makes you happy. That is the wonderful thing about coloring.

What Will You Use?

Today, adults who enjoy coloring are not limited to a box of waxy crayons (they are great, though!) to color their landscapes and Greek goddesses. Select a box of pre-sharpened colored pencils for a more mature coloring experience. There are plenty of other options, too. Opt for pens in a kaleidoscope of colors; decide that chalk or oil pastels are what your artwork needs. The only limit of your mediums is your mind. You can choose to mix-and-match your coloring choices for different textures and color depths.

Picture Pages

You are not limited to coloring books for your pleasure, either. Try some posters that come with markers for your coloring fun. Superheroes, princesses, kittens – the list is almost endless. Just pick a picture that makes you smile. You could pick up a tiny picture to color or a full poster-sized image. Print them off from your home printer. It’s easy to find wonderful subject matter online.

Relax Like an Adult

The key to coloring fun is to have fun. Relax. Stretch out on your bean bag or a rug in front of the fireplace. Pour a glass of wine. Put on some music that makes you mellow (maybe some Kenny G?) and grab your crayons. Block out the rest of the world, the ringing phone, the pressing matters at work. This is your time. Make light strokes or press down on the crayons for heavy, thick color. Remember- this is your time. This is your art. This is your relaxation. Have it your way.

What is Mindful Coloring?

Mindful coloring is a very simple concept. It is the art of coloring while practicing mindfulness. Being mindful is all about being in the moment and being engaged and involved in what’s going on around you. The art of mindfulness is lost on so many these days. The presence of cell phones and instant access to the lives of millions of people across the world is so tempting. Many people miss out on the basic pleasures and the simple little things in life because they are so focused on doing more than one thing at a time they have no idea how to be mindful. Adult coloring is here to change that.

Coloring can increase your mindfulness.

How is Coloring Mindful?

Mindful coloring is simple. You are busy coloring, which means you’re busy doing one thing. You can’t color and carry on a conversation with the kids. You can’t color and watch a television show or cook dinner. You can focus on one thing, and you then clear your mind of everything as you choose colors, work to stay within the lines, and you focus on what you’re doing.

Focus on one thing at a time.

Mindful Coloring is A Teaching Tool

This is the type of teaching tool you use to help you create better habits. Mindful coloring allows you to learn to clear your mind and focus on the task at hand. The task here is the page you are coloring, but it transcends into other areas of your life as well. When you learn to be mindful while coloring, you’re learning the tools to practice mindfulness in other areas of your life.

Use the colors to relax into your coloring pages.

Mindful Coloring is Relaxing

One of the biggest benefits of mindful coloring is the way it relaxes you. You’re no longer focused on all the things that overwhelm you and make you feel down or stressed. You’re focused on something so simple and so easy, and you are really focused on it. You don’t have to sit back and think about it further. You are now engaged in something that doesn’t bring you stress or anxiety, and it relaxes you. Many people use this tool when they feel angry or upset as a way of calming down and focusing.

Coloring is beneficial to anyone, even if you are a little worried you seem childish. This thought process is not uncommon, but it’s one that’s quickly changed once you realize just how beneficial it is and how it’s not childish at all. If you begin to practice mindful coloring, it won’t take you long at all to realize it’s beneficial to you in more ways than one. It can help you change your life for the better over time.

A coloring page for you to print and color

Color Therapy: The Psychology of Color

Colors have an effect on us.

The way we see and perceive color each day greatly impacts our lives, though it does
so on a mostly subconscious level. Understanding color psychology and how colors can
be useful to help relieve anxiety and stress is a way to make the most out of the
atmospheres you surround yourself in each day.

Why Colors Impact Us Emotionally

Seeing various colors can evoke emotion in us due to connections with real-life
experience as well as how we feel a color is interpreted. While some colors are bright or
dark by nature, others are muted or paler in comparison, allowing for drastically different
interpretations.

Color Psychology in Marketing

Color psychology is one of the most common tricks used in marketing in order to
encourage shoppers to make purchases or to remember brands and advertisements a
brand is currently running. The color green is often used with companies that are trying
to promote sales or work with money (such as banks or financial apps). The color green
helps to encourage shopping while also putting trust in the brand, relating the color itself
to money.

In many corporate situations, businesses choose to go with the color blue, as it
symbolizes trustworthiness and professionalism. Because of the neutrality and
trustworthiness associated with the color blue and businesses, companies such as
Facebook, Twitter, and even Reddit have all defaulted to using the color blue to draw in
new users while keeping the attention of current ones.

Peaceful and Calming Colors

Peaceful and calming colors are also found in advertising and marketing along with
plenty of pampering and soothing products on the market. Popular peaceful and
calming colors include pale and light blues and greens, along with deeper muted
versions of the colors. Blue and green often symbolize serenity and a sheer sense of
calmness, ideal for office or bedroom settings where the goal is to either remain focused
or relaxed.

Calm colors in a sunset

Coloring Books for Adults

Once you have a basic understanding of color psychology and how colors impact your
mood, consider coloring books for adults to help alleviate stress and worry while
allowing you to relax and unwind. Adult coloring books are great ways to integrate
soothing colors while calming the mind and reducing the amount of anxiety you feel at
any given time. Additionally, coloring books are affordable on most budgets and provide
plenty of opportunity to get creative in your downtime.

Becoming more familiar with colors and how they typically make us feel is a great way
to rearrange decor in the home or change up an entire wardrobe. Surrounding yourself
with the right colors and including additional positive external influences such as an
adult coloring book is a way to relieve anxiety and stress while allowing you to remain
relaxed, focused, and at peace.

For more information on art color therapy:

https://www.creativecounseling101.com/what-colors-mean-art-therapy-color-psychology.html

Available on Amazon

Kidney Disease Warrior

When I began dialysis, I was in for a fight for my life. I acquired pieces of armor to help me.

Fight of my Life

I earned a helmet by thinking of and using ways to help myself.  Body armor came through my research, reading, and work I do within the dialysis community. The medical team is a sword to fight my kidney disease. Family and friends are a shield of support.  Power ups to my entire armor strengthen me.  I put this armor on to fight kidney disease every day.

Mental Challenges, Staying Positive Helmet

The helmet I wear helps with mental challenges end stage renal disease brings.  ‘I dialyze to live; I don’t live to dialyze’ is my mantra after twenty years of dialysis.  Things that make me happy have become a priority. I throw prayers to the universe. Getting out of the house with family and friends helps when the same four walls close in. Sometimes taking life one second, one minute, one hour at a time is all I can do to fight. 

Learn and Share about Kidney Disease and Dialysis

The armor that protects my body is made up of the things I do to learn and share about renal disease and dialysis. My knowledge comes from research, reading, and talking to people. I enter the RSNhope.org essay contest every year. My blog http://lifeonthelist.com is about being a permanent dialysis patient. I visit websites and Facebook groups to talk about patient experiences. I am an administrator for Ihatedialysis.com. I became a ‘subject matter expert’ this year in my dialysis center working with ESRD Network #18 to disseminate information to patients. 

My Medical Team is my sword

I use my medical team as a sword in the battle against end-stage kidney disease and dialysis.  I attend every dialysis treatment scheduled. I stay for the hours I am on the machine. I tell the center doctor about any problems concerning dialysis. We work together to solve problems. I go to my medical appointments outside the center. There are six doctors on my team. I try to see each one at least every six months. I take my medication as prescribed and pay attention to the side effects.

My family and friends as a shield

The shield I use to protect myself in battle is my family supporting me.  My sisters help whenever I call for a ride to dialysis. My family comes to sit with me when I am in the hospital. I get hospital psychosis sometimes and their visits help me to stay grounded. They bring meals to my house when I am ill. We celebrate holidays by sharing the cooking and cleanup. We take trips that get me out of the house.  They allow me to lean into their strength.

Love is a power-up for me to use.

My husband is my strengthening power, ‘a power-up’, to my armor. He is the biggest and best support in my life.  My husband chauffeurs me around to run errands.  He takes me to dialysis and arranges the nest in my chair at the center before I sit in it.  He helps me believe I am beautiful even on my ugliest days.  He puts up with my mood swings.   When I need someone, he is always there.  This man is the love of my life.

My advice is to put on the armor you use to fight kidney disease every day. Have ideas and plans that help with your disease. Communicate with other people on dialysis to share stories and get information.  Go to your dialysis and doctor appointments. Gather a support network of family and friends.

Put on your armor each day
Be a Kidney Disease Warrior

Armor on! Ready! Set! Fight to Live!  Dialyze to live, don’t live to dialyze!

How Positive Thinking Can Improve Your Life

Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of thinker? The answer you choose can make a difference in the quality and length of your life.

Seeing the glass as half-full means you tend to have a more positive outlook, and positive thinking can enable you to live a better life than average. That’s because a sunny outlook can improve your life in many small ways.

For example, being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and knowing that a difficult period will eventually end can help get you through a rough day, week or year.

Here are some other ways positive thinking can improve your life.

Positive thinking can bring you to see the end of the tunnel you might be in.

It Can Reduce Stress

When you’re in a stressful situation, your gut reaction can be one of either optimism or pessimism. By definition, if you’re optimistic, you have hope and confidence about the successful outcome of the situation, whereas if you’re pessimistic, you have a tendency to believe that the worst will happen.

Worrying is a form of negative thinking. That kind of thinking and lack of hope can lead to unnecessary stress. And the more you worry, the more stress you place on yourself. Switching your attitude and eliminating negative thoughts can keep stress at bay. If you can feel confident that things will be fine and if you can feel more positive about a situation, then you will feel less stress.

“If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem, then don’t waste time worrying about it.” – Dalai Lama

It Can Decrease Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Similarly, positive thinking can lower signs of anxiety and depression. When you feel anxious, you feel worried, nervous, or uneasy and when you feel depressed, you have feelings of dejection, sadness, or despondency.

Turning off the negative thoughts going through your head and replacing them with positive talk can leave you feeling safe and less worried.

“Don’t worry, be happy.” – Bobby McFerrin

It Can Boost Your Immune System

Thinking positively not only offers you a mental boost it also gives you physical benefits as well. Researchers have shown that happiness can boost your immune system.

If you’re in a stressful situation, thinking optimistically can boost the cell-mediated immune response in your body, whereas thinking pessimistically can weaken your immune system.

“The most powerful force to maintaining a good immune system is the power of positive thinking and not allowing yourself to be unnecessarily drained emotionally by worries and fears.” – Frederick Lenz

Go up and Never Stop!

It Can Prolong Your Life

Negative emotions are natural, but if prolonged, your risk for developing disease can increase.

Looking at the effects of negative thoughts on your immune system again, you can see that a weakened immune system can raise your susceptibility to contracting an infection which can lead to illness.

 Also, a study in the Women’s Health Initiative showed a link between optimism and health. Optimistic people tend to engage in positive health behaviors such as staying active, avoiding smoking and following their medical advice. Living this way can lead to a lower mortality rate.

“I have decided to be happy because it’s good for my health.” – Voltaire

It Can Attract Other Positive Thinkers

No one wants to be around a Debbie Downer for too long. If you’re typically a happy and optimistic person, others with a similar disposition can find that attractive.

And keeping Negative Nellies out of your life can help prevent others from bringing you down.

“Like a magnet, we draw in what we constantly think about. If you’re always thinking positive, happy, joyful thoughts, you’re going to be a positive, happy, joyful person, and you will attract other happy, upbeat, positive people.” – Unknown

Final Positive Thoughts

Now that you know some of the ways positive thinking can improve your life, do you see the glass as half-full or half-empty? Or at least how changing the way you see things could benefit you in multiple ways? Let me know in the comments.

Everything is going to be alright!

What is one thing you could do to change your way of think to a more positive one?  Can you commit to do it for a week? 

I am positive you will enjoy my monthly newsletters. 

Sign up at https://katherineesoto-author.com

References:

1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950

2. https://www.livescience.com/8158-optimism-boosts-immune-system.html

3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-power-of-positive-thinking