Priorities and Mindfulness Can Help Us Thrive During the Holiday Season
“As we enter another holiday season, it is not uncommon to feel a mix of joy and dread. Along with the usual stresses that tend to come with the holidays, we are still navigating the ever-changing dos and don’ts of COVID. So, with all the things that life requires of us, how do we manage our mental health during this time of year? With a variety of things that we can do, it’s important to know where to start. Let’s start in the place of expectations — our own and of others. Whether it’s splitting time with family and friends, gift-giving, or giving of your time elsewhere, it’s important to evaluate what those expectations are and determine if they are realistic. At times we can feel obligated to do what’s always been done, but it is OK to adjust your life and to slow things down. Take a moment to reflect and determine what can be taken off your list of “to-do’s” while prioritizing the “must-dos.” This can help in creating balance, not only in your life but in your mental health.
Another way to cope with our mental health during this time of year is by practicing mindfulness. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is when you can bring yourself back (mentally) to the present moment, to the here and now. Mindfulness can be a great way to help you feel grounded, and, for the moment, make life feel a little bit more manageable. Mindfulness can be used to lower anxiety and stress to a level that puts you back in the driver seat. Remember that mindfulness is a practice, which means we are constantly trying new ways to achieve it; we are practicing. When it comes to mindfulness, one size does not fit all. Mindfulness can be used in something as quick as a deep breath as well as longer practices of mediation. Whatever you are trying to achieve by using mindfulness, being aware of how it works for you is what matters. Try to resist the urge to judge yourself for “not getting it right.” It’s a practice that takes practice. Some achieve mindfulness by having a mantra they repeat silently in their head such as “calm” or “just breathe.” Whatever mantra, should you choose one, let it be personal to you. As you try out different ones, listen to your body and how it responds. Did your shoulders drop down a little? Did that knot in your stomach loosen just a bit? Did your mind quiet, if even for a moment? Notice if you were able to bring yourself back to the present moment and refocus on the here and now. That’s mindfulness.
During this holiday season, may we take a moment to be mindful of the little pieces that make up the bigger picture?
Written by Elissa Freeman, SummitStone Health Partners