During this season of the year, our calendars get packed with ugly sweater parties, cookie exchanges, children’s holiday programs and on and on. Budgets get blown and anxiety escalates. It is easy to become overwhelmed and just barrel through. However, I would encourage you to slow it down and take time to be mindful throughout the season. Being mindful is staying present in the moment and really noticing what you are experiencing through all of your five senses.
5 Ways you can mindfully go about the season:
1. Mindfully choose the memories you are creating. If you have little people in your house, view time with loved ones through the lens of the memories you want to create for them. Be intentional about planning what you will and won’t attend in light of the memories you want to make. Research shows that when we think of a fond memory, the feelings paired with that experience come rushing back. Nostalgia “inspire[s] positive feelings of joy, high self-regard, belonging, and meaningfulness in life” (source). Therefore, carefully choose the experiences and traditions that resonate with you and your family values and say no to invitations that will create unwanted stress.
2. Honor your feelings. Spending so much time around family can sometimes backpedal us into childhood roles or cause us to rehash old wounds. Take the time to mindfully consider how you are feeling in a given moment. Label the feeling with words, which can help you calm down and regulate your emotions. If you become overwhelmed at a gathering, take a break, even if it means collecting yourself in the bathroom with some deep breaths.
3. Eat mindfully. Sit down to eat and notice the textures and tastes. A good tip is to only enjoy homemade treats, skip the store bought cookies or cakes. Take little portions of your favorite dishes or split a special dessert with someone. Jean Kristellar, PhD, points out how quickly our taste buds tire, " The first few bites of a food taste better than the next few bites and after a large amount, we may have very little taste experience left at all." So enjoy a few tastes, but don't give in to overeating.
4. Don’t let self care go to the wayside. As your schedule fills up, don’t neglect self care. You may find yourself needing it more than ever during this time of year. Slow down with a hot bath, squeeze in that yoga class you’re contemplating skipping, or curl up with a good book as the snow falls outside instead of deep cleaning a part of your house that company won’t even notice. Check out this post on 5 minute self care for more quick tips.
5. Take time to be grateful. Just because Thanksgiving has come and gone, doesn’t mean we have to stop counting our blessings. Take the time to be thankful for what you do have and not a Grinch about what you are lacking. Don’t forget to let loved ones know how thankful you are that they are a part of your life, whether you write it out in their Christmas card, send a text, or tell them in person. And don’t wait for the New Year to start a gratitude journal, what better time than today?
By maintaining mindfulness throughout this busy time of year, you will slow down and find more enjoyment in the moment. Feel free to share in the comments below how you are practicing mindfulness this season.