“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” proclaims an old holiday song. But for a lot of us, the holidays come with a heavy dose of stress, brought on by too much to do, too little time, and the emotional baggage of Christmases past. So what can you do to lower your stress and heighten your enjoyment of the season? Try injecting a little mindfulness into your day. Here are five easy ways to do just that.
1. Stay in the Present
Being where we actually are allows us to take care of what needs doing at that moment without worrying about what comes next or what happened in the past. By staying in the present, we let go of preconceptions and simply experience the moments as they unfold.
2. Be Kind
Long lines, harried store clerks, and impatient customers can make anyone’s blood pressure rise. But if we remember that everyone around us is struggling with something – just like us – we can extend the kindness that makes everyone (including ourselves) feel a little bit better.
3. Take Care of your Health
Being mindful includes paying attention to what we eat and drink and making sure we get enough rest and exercise. By taking care of our physical health, we also improve our emotional well-being.
4. Nurture your Spirit
Let go of the commercialized version of Christmas and take time each day for some spiritual renewal. Whether we do this through prayer or meditation, creative activities, or spending time in nature, nurturing our spirit allows us to connect with the deeper meaning of the season.
Sitting in traffic, standing in lines, waiting on hold – all are opportunities to practice mindfulness by focusing on the breath. For at least three complete rounds, simply breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, making your exhalations a little longer than your inhalations.
The good news is that mindfulness can fit seamlessly into your hectic holiday schedule. All it takes is the willingness to become more aware. And by practicing mindfulness, you give yourself the priceless gift of blissful calm. What could be more wonderful than that?
Beverly Conyers is the author of Find Your Light