How is it that “The most wonderful time of the year” inevitably becomes the most stressful time of the year? Schedules bulge. Pressure builds. Spending throttles. Stress overflows. Then your plane flight is cancelled, the package you ordered gets lost at the post office, uncle Tom has a bit too much red wine, and the pumpkin pie (under his watchful eye) becomes a charred mess.
"With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer"
It's in these moments of overwhelm that we often become disconnected – from ourselves and our loved ones.
Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's subtle. The guilt, shame, frustration, sadness – they can all show up amidst the holiday flow. In addition, we tend to eat and drink more, get less sleep, and set aside a lot of our daily routines that keep us sane, which increases our stress reactivity. Yes, the holidays are amazing too...but this time of year is complicated, period. And for most, the stress is real.
The beautiful thing is, we can boost our "immunity" to stress by cultivating our internal resources through mindfulness and meditation. The solution isn't out there somewhere. Believe us, it's right here. In our own body and mind and heart. When we pause, check in, and strengthen our sense of peace and groundedness within, our hearts may actually be glowing when loved ones are near (instead of judging/cringing/criticizing/shriveling/making a mad dash for the nearest exit...buh byyyye).
Practice these 6 Mindful Holiday Hacks to help you calm your mind, reset your nervous system, and bring your best self into this holiday season.
And don't forget to join us for a drop-in class. Bears hibernate, yes, but we humans weren’t meant to hide away in our dens all winter. Socializing – in any capacity – is a powerful way to boost your mood, and there's nothing like a solid meditation with other intentionally-minded folks.
That's why we're here.
6 MINDFUL HOLIDAY HACKS
Less Grinch, More Joy
1. MORNING INTENTION SETTING
Do this first thing when you wake up (maybe before you open your eyes, or if your brain needs coffee, get coffee) – then pause, take a few breaths, and decide right then and there how you want to approach your day. You have 24 fresh hours in front of you – what's most important?
2. GOTTA DO IT – DAILY PRACTICE
Meditating daily is a game changer. Even if it's for ONE single minute, do it. Make it happen, Set your timer and just go (nowhere). This is how you build a new habit and change your brain. One day at a time.
3. PAUSE + 3 BREATH RULE
When you're in a tense moment (your partner snaps at you, your child starts screaming, your cat tips over the xmas tree, your in-law casually offers their latest political diatribe...) PAUSE!!! Take three deep breaths, exhale out the tension in your body, then remind yourself this too will pass.
4. BODY KINDNESS 30
Have a nice hot 30 minute bath; take a nap for 30 minutes; treat yourself to your favorite food without feeling guilty; have your favorite hot drink and really SAVOR it. Take 30 for you and only you – what do you need? What will fill your cup, so you can fill the cups of others?
5. $%#@ THIS LINE MEDITATION
Stewing in line 'til your lid nearly flips (or does) is the worst. Instead of fixating on the long line, the sloth clerk, or traffic, use this time for SELF CARE. Drop the fixation on how long you have to wait and tune into the moment. Practice breath meditation; listen to the noises/soundtrack swirling around your body; do your gratitude practice (see below); do a mini body scan to soften tension in your face, shoulders, and abdomen. See if you can let your frustration soften – you don't have to like the situation, but you can release some of the emotional turbulence by tuning into the present.
6. HANDS FULL OF GRATITUDE
Gratitude determines your latitude. Pause and bring to mind TEN things that you are grateful for, counting them on your fingers. Don't give up after 3 or 4 – you got this, all the way to 10! You can also share this practice with a family member or a friend, taking turns back and forth.
About the Author
Rena is a meditation instructor, writer, and designer and has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for eleven years. Her studies began in college at the University of Redlands Meditation Room, one of the first "contemplative classrooms” in the country, where she studied meditation alongside her degrees in business and graphic design. She worked as a health coach for a Portland-based wellness organization, and spent six years developing her coaching and meditation skills through her work in the nonprofit sector.
Rena is currently studying positive neuroplasticity with Dr. Rick Hanson, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, and is pursuing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) certification through the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.