Mindful during the holidays

Though the holiday season is about spending time with loved ones, taking part in traditions, and feeling happiness and love throughout the season, stress is an emotion many women report feeling during the season, according to research done by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner in 2006. Their research found that “holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations, like preparing meals and decorating the home. In addition, women have a harder time than men relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating.”

To help you handle some of the burdens the season brings, we talked to lifestyle experts for their mindfulness tips. Here, their advice on how to be more mindful during the holidays:

Practice mindfulness during mundane tasks.

“Mindfulness is simply going about a task with focus, curiosity and using all the senses. So, pick a task that you have to do anyway, like washing the dishes, brushing your teeth or wrapping presents. If you are going to wrap presents mindfully, really feel what the gift and the paper feel like on your fingers. Is there a rough edge along the paper? What sound does it make as you fold it and pull the tape out of the dispenser? Can you smell the tape as you apply it to the package? Look at the colors on the paper, the shadows that the folds make as you create them. Engage all of your senses. And if other thoughts intrude, just dismiss them without judgment and bring yourself back to the task. Suddenly you realize the task is done and you’ve basically meditated. You can do this with anything. And kids love it too! Even if you do this for just 5 minutes a day you’ll see benefits.”  — Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD, author of Journey of Healing, Conquer your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques.

Practice a mini meditation.

You can do this anywhere, even while waiting in line at the store. “Simply concentrate on the breath, the rise and fall of the chest (sometimes this step is enough to calm us, but let’s go further). On the inhale think, I am, and repeat. And on the exhale think, “at peace” and repeat. So, inhale, I am, exhale at peace. If other thoughts come in, and they often do, dismiss them without judging and return to the breath and go back to, I am…at peace.” –Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD, LMT, CHt.

Carve out time for yourself.

“Take responsibility for your own wellbeing and self care so you can show up fully for others. Whether that means getting a certain amount of sleep, or seeking support from a loved one when you need it.  If you get anxious or overwhelmed, take a 2-minute break to check in with your own thoughts and feelings. Moms tend to leave themselves off the list because we’re focusing on how everyone else is doing. Focus on your nourishment for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Have a hot water with lemon, listen to a song that cheers you up, perhaps put extra care into your hair or makeup. Focus on little moments, they add up to big moments and people forget that and give up altogether.” – Nitika Chopra, talk show host and lifestyle expert.

Pay attention.

“We get stressed out when we’re doing one thing and thinking about another. For example, we’re shopping for gifts and we’re thinking about how we are late for a meeting, or how we are already over budget. We’re putting up the tree and we’re trying to figure out where all the relatives are going to stay when they come visit. The mindfulness technique is to stay present in the moment. When you’re shopping, think about the person you are buying for, and how they will enjoy the gift. When you’re decorating the tree, focus on the ornaments, and the beauty and memories in them. Pay attention to the fragrance in the pine needles, and notice how the lights sparkle. Engage the senses to bring your mind back to the present moment.” – Lissa Coffey, lifestyle expert, author of Awakened Parenting.

We expect too much.

We tend to have grand expectations of ourselves over the holidays. Why the pressure? When we look back on the holidays we don’t remember how clean the house was, or how many different cookies guests had to choose from. We remember the time spent with our loved ones. We remember the moments of connection. So instead of focusing on all the external conditions that we expect that we need to make this a “perfect” holiday – instead focus on the parts of the holiday that you love, focus on what makes you happy. Everything else can be improvised! – Lissa Coffey

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Use touch therapy to tune in.

“Life is stressful so it’s extremely important to be mindful of how you’re feeling each day and learn how to manage the stress in your own life so you can be your best for yourself and your family. I recommend that everyone take a few minutes each day to nurture yourself by tuning into your own body using touch therapy. The following touch therapy remedies can help you disconnect from the chaos that surrounds you and connect to the place of stillness and peace that lies within you. These remedies can help relieve anxiety and boost your energy.

Letting Go’ Acupressure Points: Place the fingertips of your three middle fingers about three finger-widths below the collarbone on either side of your upper chest. Press firmly and make small circles with your fingers for 15 seconds. Then, applying the same pressure, slowly drag your fingertips down your chest. Repeat this several times covering the area below the collarbone on both sides.

‘Solar Plexus’ Reflexology Points: Place your thumb on the center of the palm of hand. Press firmly for 10 seconds then make small circles in one direction and then the other. Do this for several minutes then switch hands and repeat on the other side. This stimulates the reflex area to the Solar Plexus, the ‘nerve center of the body.’ Pressing here can relax your entire body and bring instant stress relief.” –Michelle Ebbin, touch therapy expert, author of The Touch Therapy.

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