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.
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.
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.