The holiday season is full of some of the best things in life: celebratory traditions, home decorating, and gathering with loved ones. However, while this is a time for enjoyment and for giving and receiving love, stress also tends to make an appearance. Practicing mindfulness during this time can help you be aware of that stress and manage it in a healthy way. Here are some ways you can stay mindful in this season and enjoy your festive time to the fullest!
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice or state of being that helps you remain calm, collected, and centered even if things feel out of control. It’s a sense of awareness of yourself and of the world around you that can help you manage stress, recognize mental/emotional triggers, and overcome conflicts.
Mindfulness includes recognizing how a situation makes you feel, accepting those emotions, and deciding how best to process them. It isn’t just about being aware of what goes on around you—it’s about learning to regulate our emotions so stressors don’t become overwhelming.
Tips for Practicing Mindfulness
1. Know Your Triggers
If you have a mental health condition or even if you’re experiencing more emotional instability than usual, it’s important to learn what might be triggering you. If you’re around people who care about you, make sure they know your triggers as well so they can do their best to help you stay mentally healthy as you process your emotions and/or condition in your own time.
2. Do A Regular Self-Check
Whether you do this in a quick, 5-minute self-assessment or in a journal entry, it’s a good idea to check in on how you’re feeling during or at the beginning and/or end of each day. Focus on whether you’re feeling any pain or tension or if you’ve been experiencing any negative thoughts or emotions.
It can also be helpful to consider body sensations–are your shoulders tight? Are you experiencing headaches? Sometimes, physical cues can help identify early signs of stress. If you are able to notice you’re feeling “off,” great work! That’s the first step to finding a way to manage your emotions and feel more in control of even the most challenging situations.
3. Know What Self-Care Techniques Work For You
Everyone has something that helps them calm down, relax, and rest. For many people, these activities include baths, journaling, meditating, reading, napping, aromatherapy, or even just talking to a loved one or counselor. Whatever activities help you, try your best to make time for them.
4. Practice Meditation Exercises
Meditation is something that can help anyone, whether you’re religious or not. Meditation is simply the act of focusing on physical actions such as breathing, stretching, or moving, along with focusing on a single idea or belief that can help you enter a state of enhanced wellness.
5. Set or Enforce Boundaries
Boundaries are an essential part of maintaining healthy relationships with others and even yourself. A key part of practicing mindfulness is recognizing when a boundary has been crossed. The purpose of boundaries is to protect you and others from harm or help you recognize unmet needs. Practicing mindfulness will help you know if those boundaries are being crossed and if there’s something you need to do about it.
It can be particularly challenging to set and enforce boundaries during the holiday season, but doing so can help a lot with maintaining your general wellness. If that means you can’t allow yourself to do or think certain things or interact with certain people for a time, then so be it. It’s also a good idea to re-examine your boundaries routinely, because they may need to change over time.
6. Eat Well and Exercise
Mindfulness is often just as much about your physical health as it is about your mental health—the two are intimately connected. Planning and eating healthy meals, drinking lots of water, and staying active are great ways to help you get in touch with your feelings and your current state of wellness, and both can help you feel much better.
It’s also important to remember that during the holidays, you might eat a little differently than normal and that’s okay. Try to listen to your body’s cues as best you can and know that once the holiday season passes, your body knows how to re-regulate and adjust to business as usual.
7. Take a Break from Technology
Sometimes we just need to log out of social media, put down our phones, and close our computers. Technology has its uses and benefits, but it’s often a distraction from mindfulness and the enjoyment of the holiday season. Taking these kinds of intentional, regular breaks can help you slow down and re-center yourself.
8. Make Time for Relationships That Matter
You may not always have a choice about whether to be around people who aren’t good for your mental health this season. But you can balance this out by making sure to invest quality time in people who are positive influences in your life. Keeping those relationships healthy and being mindful of how they affect you can work wonders for your overall wellness.
We’re Here to Help!
If this holiday season is difficult for you, or if you need some help with figuring out how to stay as healthy and mindful as possible, we’re here for you. Our doctors can guide you with compassion and empathy along a path of wellness that works for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!