Managing the Holidays Mindfully

Managing the Holidays Mindfully

The Holidays can be a wonderful time of year filled with smells and tastes and sights that engage and excite the senses. It can also be a time filled with stress. The chaos of travel with kids, hosting family and friends, gift buying on a budget …all of this can cause us to rush through the holidays until we can let out a big sigh when they are all over. Practicing mindfulness in small and manageable can help you find the joy in the process not just the outcome. Try these suggestions to help you stay connected as you move through the season.

Reminding yourself to take a deep inhalation and slow exhalation through your nose can not only clam your nervous system but can give you a moment to stop and notice how you feel and choose how to proceed with kindness and compassion whether that is toward yourself or others. Try this exercise with your kids too. Place your hands on your belly and inhale to feel it fill with air then as you exhale follow your breath all the way to the end. This lengthening of your exhale not only creates a relaxation response in your body but it puts your mind in one place so you can quiet the chatter and hit pause on the to-do list.

Use your Senses
So many opportunities to taste, smell, hear touch and see. Practice really noticing your food. Consider where it came from and the love and care that was put into the preparation. Hold it to your nose and notice what happens in your mouth and belly. Is there a texture, a sound? Chew slowly before swallowing again noticing the process. Your meal might take longer but it will be savored and appreciated and your digestive system will thank you for taking your time. This is also a way to keep your kids at the table as the opportunity for conversation arises when you try eating mindfully.

Strike a Pose
There are many poses that help with focus and patient. Waiting in line is a big part of holiday travel. The noise and activity of airports and train stations and checkout counters can make one fell out of balance. Next time your are in a line try a tree pose. Find a still spot to place your focus and ground yourself as you lift one foot, bend your knee and place your foot on the standing leg. This is not only fun and challenging but takes your mind off of the wait and puts you in your body strengthening your attention “muscle ” and allowing you to feel rooted in the midst of chaos. Mountain is a great pose for that too. Feeling your feet on the ground and finding stillness and breath. Next time you are waiting in line with your kids have them try these poses. It will shift the energy and add some giggles.

Practice Gratitude
Studies show that gratitude and compassion practices strengthen the empathy neuropathways in the brain. As a family find ways to express gratitude whether it’s a collective journal or a nightly conversation naming some things for which you are grateful. Finding a way to give back during the holidays can also make everyone feel good and help others. There are plenty of causes to give too and places to volunteer. Let your child pick one that interests him and see how you can help as a family.
All of these practices are sure to make the holidays more peaceful and meaningful for the whole family. Happy Holidays!!