Despite the merriment the holidays bring, many of us deal with difficult feelings during this season. Sometimes, seeing family and spending a lot of time with people is overwhelming, and sometimes we’re reminded of grief if we’re spending the holiday alone. Both of these feelings can create a lot of stress and anxiety leading up to the holiday season.
Fortunately, mindfulness can help carry us through with a sense of grace and love, making it a lot easier than we might be fearing. Here are five easy ways to stay mindful during the holidays.
Schedule “me time”
If we designate a specific amount of time to ourselves, we will prevent ourselves from becoming too busy to care about our own needs. The holidays come with a lot of demands (socializing, cooking, cleaning, buying gifts, and lots more) so making sure we have time dedicated to self-care is essential. During this alone time, we can focus 100% of our attention on our own needs.
When spending the holiday alone, we may find ourselves with too much alone time. In this case, turn “me time” into a designated date with yourself. Decide upon an activity that really warms your heart and go for it, whether that’s a bath or going on a dinner date with yourself and a good book.
Meditate a little extra
Meditation is proven to substantially help our mental health, so during an emotional season, it’s essential we keep up our meditation routine. In fact, it’s ideal that we even expand our routine a little. If we only meditate in the morning, why not also try a short meditation at night for a couple weeks?
The benefits of meditation during this season are plentiful. When we are overwhelmed with tasks, it gives us a sense of stillness. When we are overcome with tension surrounding us (since even the best families sometimes fight!), we can disengage and find peace within ourselves. Meditation also provides a gentle routine we can retreat to, like an inner safe space.
If you have a morning routine, stick to it
Just like the routine meditation can bring, if we have a morning routine, it’s helpful to stick to it as closely as possible. The holidays bring a lot of change naturally, so if we’re also changing how we start our day, our mind may end up shocked. There’s nothing more centering than grounding ourselves in a healthy and self-supportive morning routine.
Whether alone or with people, sticking with our usual start to the day can create a sense of security and peace that provides a wonderful emotional foundation for anything that arises as the activities of the day begin. This morning routine is also a great excuse for some more “me time.”
Be open to your emotions and accept them
Despite the cheer the holidays bring, many of us do feel down. And that’s perfectly okay. The holiday season doesn’t require us to forgo our humanity and no longer feel any difficult emotion. In fact, we can use this season as a time to honor the depths of our emotions and accept all we feel.
All emotions are a momentary experience, but they will keep nagging at us if we ignore them. Listening to our feelings and providing them with a loving and compassionate acceptance is a sure way to feel more content, even when we’re upset. Mindfulness is characterized by non-resistance, and this goes for our emotions too.
Practice gratitude for all you accomplished this year
What helps us more than self-love? Probably nothing! Compassion is the foundation of all joy, peace, and hope—all feelings we want more of during this holiday season. An easy way to bring this love into our lives is to reflect upon the past year and all we accomplished.
If we take some time to write down a long list of things we’ve succeeded with, accomplished, or worked through this past year, we’re beginning the year with a healthy sense of pride and self-compassion. The accomplishments we write can be anything from “I got out of bed each day” to “I started a business.” Large or small, write down as many as you can think of and honor your journey through 2016.