The holiday season only spans a two-month time period, but it feels like a year-round mindset. Stores put up decor earlier and earlier each year. And it seems Halloween decorations are out for display before the school year starts. Thanksgiving barely gets its minute of fame before Christmas tree lots unfold. While the spirit of the holidays is beautiful and sentimental, it can cause unnecessary stress—financially, mentally, etc.—and managing stress during the holidays feels impossible.
For many, the holiday season is yet another reminder of the sadness and anxiety that comes with being around family. It’s hard to believe that the holidays aren’t a perfect time of year for everyone, given the sheer amount of commercials showing quintessential families laughing around a bountiful table. This is your gentle reminder that each family experience can be complicated and difficult in its own way. Rather than feel like something is wrong with your relationship with your family, know that as long as we’re doing our best to manage our familial relationships, that’s constructive in itself.
what is mindfulness?
Given that the holidays can be a stressful time—whether it be family dynamics or spreading yourself too thin—it’s important to incorporate daily mindfulness. Just like the benefits of an exercise routine, getting into the habit of practicing mindfulness can aid in a more peaceful holiday season. But, what is mindfulness? “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present…and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” At first glance, that may sound complicated or unachievable. However, the more mindfulness is flexed (like a muscle), the easier it is to tap into this particular state of being.
How to manage stress during the holidays
Before diving into general mindfulness tips for the remainder of the holiday season, here are holistic, wellness-inspired ideas to manage stress. While managing stress during the holiday season may seem like an oxymoron, it’s not as difficult when you consciously choose self-care. Self-care comes in many (free) forms, like 10 minutes of joyful movement, 10 minutes of meal prep (a gift to your future self), or a 10 minute shower after your kids go to sleep. Additionally, considering that 70% of Americans use cannabis to feel pain-free and relaxed, exploring responsible and legal avenues of incorporating it into your self-care routine might offer another dimension of relaxation for some individuals.
Creating rituals around these ideas, practices, and things can help you feel grounded during an otherwise chaotic time of year.
4 Mindfulness Tips To lower stress This Holiday Season
Becoming more mindful (read: intentional) with your time and priorities will look a bit different for everyone. However, the power of our thoughts and the way we consciously choose to live our lives can make a significant impact on our happiness. Taking a moment to tune in, be present, and be thoughtful of where you exert your energy is how mindfulness becomes a daily practice.
Let go of expectations. The holidays are easily consumed by expectations regarding how things should go, what gifts should be given, what conversations need to be had, who’s cooking, who’s in charge of what, etc. It’s time to let go of those expectations, often because they contribute to unwanted stress and sometimes, disappointment. Let go of what you feel like you should be doing. Instead, do what feels most realistic and attainable.
Accept imperfection. When it comes to what’s good enough during the holidays, we often set the bar impossibly high. In turn, we feel upset when our celebrations, decor, gifts, etc. don’t live up to expectations. Accept that things will not go exactly as planned. That’s normal! Imperfect is healthy and common.
Don’t lose sight of what actually matters. Yes, the decor is beautiful and the lights are festive, but don’t let that deter from what actually matters during the holiday season. Health is wealth. Connection with loved ones (friends or family) is invaluable. Being kind is powerful. Being generous is life-changing. What matters is that you’re a part of something much larger than yourself.
Rethink your resolutions. Part of establishing a mindful holiday season is about making choices, today, that will better your tomorrow. As you begin thinking about your 2022 resolutions and goals, try establishing some of them now. Start small. For example, if you want to cut back on sugar in the new year, load up on roasted vegetables and protein during the holiday season. Focus on winter produce. At any rate, break up your goals into tinier steps. And don’t forget to have self-compassion every step of the way.
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