Health & Wellness

Practicing mindfulness to stay sane during the holidays (2016)

Courtney Rupertus
Practicing mindfulness to stay sane during the holidays (2016)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - and for many - the most stressful. It’s during the holiday season that we become inundated with errands to run, presents to buy, and people to visit, and for a lot of us that means running on all cylinders until we are burnt out and a little Grinch-like.       


There are a lot of ways to combat the pressure to keep up with holidays and the number one way is to practice staying mindful as much as possible.

Now, it’s difficult to cultivate out of thin air, especially if it’s a new practice for you, however the benefits are immense. The goal is less stress and anxiety, better sleep, improved interactions with people, and just a general warm and fuzzy feeling throughout the hustle and bustle; contrary to the ‘normal’ feelings of being overwhelmed, overworked, and overindulged.

The easiest ways to integrate mindfulness into your holiday break go as follows:

Back away from your smartphone! Try leaving it in another room and focusing on either the task at hand or the folks in front of you. Learn how to use active listening while visiting with your friends and family members, and trust us, it’s way easier when you don’t have a cellphone or tablet constantly drawing your attention away.

Plus, that niggling, distracted feeling you have when you repeatedly check Instagram or Facebook is actually anxiety. Put the phone down, take some deep breaths, and move on to another activity - even if it’s just quietly sitting in your chair.

Forget the “shoulds”
We all know too well what it feels like to have so many obligations that we cannot possibly enjoy our time spent at any of them. We get bogged down and tired, which makes it hard to stay present in the moment.

Try slimming your list of commitments and focusing on the events or moments that are truly meaningful to you. Instead of cramming everything in, try to balance your needs along with everybody else’s. No one will make your wellness a priority except you.

Let go
This idea can be applied to such a huge range of topics, especially during this time of year, because family time usually means old grudges or annoyances, judgments and criticisms, or just plain old negative habits and behavior patterns start to crop up. If you glean nothing else from this article, at the very least try to let go of as much of the old, emotional junk you’ve been carrying around as you can.

No one has the time or energy for it, and whether or not you’re ready to forgive someone in your family or close circle, it’s better for you and your overall wellness to stop hanging onto useless baggage and simply let go.

Embrace compassion
One of the biggest tricks to staying sane and mindful during the holidays is practicing compassion towards yourself as well as others. Sit back and observe how you feel at a particular moment. Do you need some alone time? Do you need to move your body? Do you need to eat something other than chocolate and turkey? There’s no need to feel guilt or shame about overindulging, but check in with yourself and identify your needs from time to time, and don’t berate yourself for needing a nap in between the chaos of the day.

Compassion for others can simply mean putting yourself in their shoes before judging them harshly. Usually, most families have a hard time communicating emotions in a healthy way, so try to read between the lines. Maybe they are trying to ask you for something they need but don’t know how and it comes off as insensitive or insulting.

Mindfulness means making yourself a priority, staying present as much as possible, and letting go of some of the emotional reactivity that can make our lives stressful during the holidays. Just remember, a happier you means a happier holiday for everyone!