All that being said, I keep reminding myself that the whole point of this holiday is to get to spend quality time with family and friends. So how do we keep this focus at the forefront?
We can manage the stress of holidays by making time to be mindful.
Mindfulness isn’t the same as meditation, and it doesn’t require that we drive somewhere and sit in silence for 10 days. Mindfulness means being aware of what is happening in the moment, and paying attention to our thoughts and reactions without judgment. Mindfulness is something we can practice in many different situations, even when we are walking or eating. Research shows us that integrating mindfulness can benefit our physical and emotional health, our productivity, and the way we approach others in relationships.
Below are some strategies for integrating mindfulness during this busy holiday weekend:
Slow down. Getting ready for a gathering can feel like a race, and it’s often even more stressful than our morning routines (if that’s possible). In these times I find myself putting different color socks on, sticking the cereal in the refrigerator, and generally feeling very activated. Sometimes just repeating the words “slow down,” and encouraging our bodies to follow (e.g., taking slower steps around the house and cutting back on multitasking) is helpful. There is a lot to get done in a short amount of time, but the cost on our bodies and emotions of anxiously running around isn’t usually worth it.
Play observer for a minute. While everyone is gathered around the table or talking in the living room, sit back and (surreptitiously) be the observer. What is happening right now? Notice some of the good things happening around you (e.g., your kids are engaged in an activity with a family member), and take a second to just revel in this moment. Tell yourself you are noticing this moment, and just sit with the feelings it brings.
Take a break…alone. One of the benefits of being in a larger group for the holidays is that someone might be able to watch your kids for a second while you take a break. Maybe your break will come while you are showering and getting ready, or maybe all you can do is sneak away to the restroom. While you’re alone, use that moment to take some cleansing breaths and note how you are feeling. If you find yourself stressed or anxious, remind yourself that it is just a moment, and it will pass. If you find yourself joyful, note that and try to take a mental picture of what is happening so you can savor it later.
What will you do this holiday weekend to be mindful?