Stereotypically, mindfulness gets a reputation for being only about stillness or listening apps where someone guides you through a breathing exercise.
That can be a part of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is also the broader concept and idea of learning to be more present, thoughtful, and attuned or connected to ourselves.
Many of us run on autopilot throughout our days – especially around the holiday season. We move through tasks and activities without being fully present. Kind of scary and crazy when you read a sentence like that — to acknowledge we aren’t always present to many activities and tasks we perform throughout the day.
One simple way to practice and increase being more present in the moment is by taking a deep breath and noticing your surroundings or how your body feels. When you engage your senses, you come back to the moment and become more aware of your surroundings.
For example, you may not have realized that it’s been five hours since you had something to eat; simply taking a deep breath and noticing your body might reveal that your stomach has been growling for quite some time.
Other practices to increase your mindfulness this holiday season:
Sipping a warm drink. (Perhaps even drinking it out of a real mug, instead of a travel mug. If you know, you know.)
Making time for movement of any kind.
Paying attention to body and soul – what do you need? (I asked this question to a client just the other day; we realized that what her soul truly craved was a night off of cooking and grabbing a bite to eat with her husband, even if only a quick outing.)
Engaging and noticing your surroundings using your five senses.
Practicing 5-5-5 breathing – inhaling, holding, and exhaling for five seconds each.
Visualizing your calm place and focusing on how you feel and think when you imagine yourself in your calm place.
Noticing emotions and allowing them to exist without judging, analyzing, or forcing yourself to do anything with them.
Practicing good physical and emotional boundaries (recognize where you end and other person begins).
Believing you will be okay and will get through a full holiday season.
Connecting to your Higher Power through prayer or meditation.
Listening to music.
What’s the value of practicing and utilizing some of the mindfulness practices?
You may be more present and perhaps even have deeper connections during the holiday experiences. A brief example of this: I know that if I have a full night of sleep, then I am going to be much more enjoyable to be around during the day. So, I may make some choices to go to bed earlier than others around me even if it means leaving the gathering before others.
When you feel more grounded or connected to yourself, it is often easier to not be swayed as much by others’ emotions.
You may be able to slow down and not rush through until the next season.
You may create new traditions – if you are more attuned and practicing honesty with yourself and others, then you might bring a new game for everyone to try or share a new recipe (one that you know sits better with your stomach than some of the normal sweets and comfort foods).
You may have better boundaries for you and your family, which in turn may lead to a more enjoyable season or more meaningful moments when you are saying “yes.”
We hope this helps provide at least a few ideas for this holiday season.
If you are looking for more or believe that it could be helpful to verbally process with a third party, our therapists at Steady Hope would love to connect with you!