Sometimes, it can feel impossible to keep calm during the holidays.
There are just so many sources of holiday stress. Plus, seasonal anxiety triggers a lot of people during this time of year. However, you don’t have to succumb to the stress. Mindfulness can help.
Mindfulness simply means the practice of being in the present moment. Although it sounds simple, many people find it challenging. Our minds love to ruminate over the past. Moreover, they love to stress out about the future.
Having so much on our minds is one reason that it is hard to keep calm during the holidays. Our minds just keep going over all of the plans to keep, gifts to give, and family to deal with.
Mindfulness helps us set those things aside for at least a short period of time. Therefore, we can relax and regain our composure.
Your five primary senses offer a direct route to focusing on the moment. Make it a point throughout each day to pause and check in with all of your senses.
• Embrace the cozy tactile sensations of warm winter clothes.
• Inhale deeply to take in a calming scent.
• Pause to gaze at a beautiful winter landscape.
• Play a favorite holiday song, doing nothing else but listening.
• Savor the taste of a favorite holiday treat.
Whenever you start to feel stress, simply take a moment of pause. Ask yourself what you smell, taste, see, hear, and can touch. Let everything else slip away from your mind as you give full awareness to each of your senses.
Mindfulness cues are things that happen throughout the day to remind us to take a pause.
For example, if coffee brewing is your mindfulness cue, then you can teach yourself to notice each time that coffee is brewing. That is your cue to take a moment and quiet your mind.
You might practice deep breathing, count backward from one hundred, or do some simple stretches. Also, simply check in with yourself to see what emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are occurring at the moment.
Here are some common seasonal things that you can use as mindfulness cues:
• Christmas music; it’s everywhere so let it remind you to be present
• Pumpkin spice on any menu; see it there and take a breath
• Holiday smells such as cinnamon and nutmeg; remember to breathe them in
• The sound of stepping on fallen leaves; let them remind you to slow down
• Advertisements for the holidays; reflect on what “giving” is really all about
• Holiday cards; when they arrive in the mail, pause and give mental thanks
Once you get in the habit of using mindfulness cues, they can provide you with constant reminders to get back into the moment. This is immensely helpful to keep calm during the holidays.
Many holiday stresses come from our interactions with others. From the harried cashier at the shopping mall to the frustrating relative at the holiday dinner table, each day of the season presents its own challenging interactions.
One way to keep calm during the holidays is to take each of these as opportunities to listen, be curious, and avoid reacting. Ask questions and listen deeply to the answers. Before speaking, think over what message you truly want to convey.
Simple conversations can become meaningful forms of connection when we are open to really listening. This improves all aspects of the holidays.
It is okay to ask for help to keep calm during the holidays. We offer anxiety counseling as well as many other forms of treatment. Learn more about what we treat here.