Mindfulness During the Holidays

The holidays are my favorite time of year.  I love everything about Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I am “one of those” who loves to start listening the Christmas music right around the day after Halloween.  For me, it is one big magical season that all wraps up together, so it is never too early to start celebrating.

It is also the time of year that I find myself having more stress than ever.  You see, I am an anxious perfectionist.  Yes!!  The lady talking about mindfulness is a mess! However, because of my passion for reading and researching everything and anything that has to do with mindfulness, I have learned to make the holidays so much more enjoyable.

I recently read an article that solidified my need to “slow my roll” during the holidays and enjoy each and every day.  The article referenced the different experiences that kids are having today in school versus just 10 years ago all due to the use of cell phones and social media.  It just strengthened my belief in learning to be mindful and taking the time to enjoy everything that we have.  So, here are some tips that I have come up with to help us all be more mindful this holiday season.  I promise that I will try them too!

  1.  Practice Gratitude- I know, I know…this seems like a “no brainer” being that we are just days away from Thanksgiving.  However, how many of us actually do this even once during the holidays?  If you are not someone who is used to this practice, start small.  I have been starting and ending each day by laying in bed and thinking about 3 things that I am grateful for.  I have been working on making this a habit and it has helped.  During the times that I am stressed about the list of groceries that I need to buy or the many activities that we have, this habit helps me to stop and be mindful about all that I have to be thankful for.  It helps to relieve the feeling of trying to do too much and make everything perfect.  Take it one step further and vow to try to send a quick text or make a quick call to someone different each day that you are grateful for.  Tell them what they mean to you!

2.  Mindfully participate in the things that bring you and your family joy – As I mentioned before, I love everything that has to do with the holidays.  I love all of the holiday specials on TV and all of the activities for families and kids.  I was extremely lucky to have a childhood that was magical and want that so much for my kids.  However, I have noticed that with the demands of today and with the dreaded use of cell phones, those activities are not as magical as they used to be.  Just the other night, I caught a few Christmas specials being shown on TV.  I immediately got my  youngest child dressed in her pj’s so that we could sit down to enjoy the shows.  My husband came in the room moments later and sat with us, but proceeded to jump on his phone.  I made a comment about being “mindful” of the experience for our daughter so that she had magical memories of the holidays when she grew up.  Sometimes I think that we are forgetting that our children see us and are creating the memories they will have in years to come.  We want them to remember us as being engaged in what they were doing and not with our heads in our phones.  My husband later thanked me for reminding him to be mindful in that moment (I swear he really did).  This year, try to spend some of the time that you share traditions without your phone or technology to create lasting memories.

3.  Give Up Perfection – Ok, so this is the hardest one for me.  In a day an age where we are bombarded with images and stories of the “perfect” holiday tree, table setting and so much more, it is time to ignore it.  Striving for perfection steals the joy of the moments.  Each year, I vow to myself that this will be the year that I do not let my kids see me as the Grinch and rather as the mom that made Christmas fun and relaxing.  Of course I want everything to be wrapped perfectly and I want all of the decoration to be great, but at the end of the day, I just want to enjoy the time with my kids and family.  So many people have been telling me since my kids were born how fast time goes.  Well, they are so right.  I cannot believe for a second that I have a child who can drive and shave!  I am vowing to savor every moment that I can while I still have them.

4.  Get Out in Nature – If you live in a place like I do, getting out into nature this time of year is something that you do less and less of.  Where I live, we have had snow for the last few weeks and the cold is bitter.   However, I know that I feel the most relaxed when I spend some time outside in fresh air.  There are scientific studies that talk about the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.  So, take some time to take a mindful walk.  Listen to the snow crunch below your feet and feel the snow fall on your nose.  Have you ever watched a child enjoying all of this fun?  There is something so wonderful about just letting go and enjoying the wonders of the season.

Whatever your plans are this holiday season, I hope that you will take some time to be mindful and enjoy the season for what it is.  Slow down, smell the scents, do what you can with what you have and be happy!!  Before we know it, it all will be over and we will be wishing for the holidays to return.  Enjoy the moment!!

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