‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? Well, sometimes. If you take a mindful look at the way you approach the holidays, you’ll find that you actually have a mixture of feelings – like joy and sorrow, pleasure and stress, boredom and excitement, for instance.
The holidays can be bittersweet, especially for those who have lost someone they love. They are stressful for those forced to mingle with family members they don’t admire. And they are lonely for those who are alone.
It’s a time ripe with celebration, gratitude, and giving. And it’s a time of wishing and grieving.
So whatever your circumstances, how do you surf the waves of emotion that arise during the holidays? Mindful practices can keep you rooted in your truth, feeling ground, and present, too.
1.At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m going to ask you to pause and breathe.
Connect with your breath noticing the sensations of each inhale and exhale. Use your breath as your anchor. Imagine breathing from your feet up through your body, noticing the support of the ground beneath you. Repeat.
2. Name three things that give you a felt sense of gratitude.
What comforts and people would you miss if you didn’t already have them in your life? Furthermore, identify why that is important to you. Revel in that graciousness for a moment. You’re strengthening those neural pathways when you do.
3. Check in with your five senses, one at a time.
Notice your sense of hearing, allowing the sounds of the room to fill your awareness. Notice your sense of sight, observing the details of your immediate environment. Continue with your sense of smell, taste, and touch. This integrates brain regions, leading to increased calm, less worry.
4. Do a body scan.
Start with the top of your head working your way down through your neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. Notice your back, chest, abdomen, hips, legs, and feet. Gently breathe into uncomfortable parts, allowing a softening to occur, for example. This will get you out of your head and into your body.
5. When all else fails, use your imagination.
Note how you feel in the moment and intentionally redirect your focus to your peaceful place or favorite activity. Allow your mind to relive a positive experience. It will break up the negative thought patterns and provide relief.
These are tips for the tough moments. There will be joyful ones, too. Relish those. To clarify, focus on the good when it happens. Soak up positive experiences while engaging all five senses. Be in the moment.
When you intentionally focus your attention, you are rewiring your brain for more openness, acceptance, peace. This is mindfulness. It is health and wellness. This is joy at the holidays.