The holiday season often includes great food, destination travel, and quality time with loved ones. But the holidays can also bring unwanted guests like stress, anxiety, and depression. Holiday busyness can trigger or worsen underlying mental health conditions and make the “most wonderful time of the year” the most difficult time of the year.
Looking for a way to let go of stress, promote mental health and cruise through the holidays? Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, boost mood, and improve physical health and immunity.
Here are four easy mindfulness-based tips you can do every day to tame stress during the holidays:
- Breathe. Reduce holiday stress by cultivating your breath. Breathing deeply into and out of the lower abdomen massages your vagus nerve, which calms your central nervous system and takes you out of “fight or flight” mode. Enjoy 1-5 minutes of mindful belly breathing by using the app on your smartwatch, listening to a Mastermind Breathe meditation, or taking a mindful pause while you’re waiting in line or in traffic. Your breath is always available as a healthy coping mechanism during stressful times.
- Celebrate. Our brains have evolved to protect us with a negativity bias, meaning our brains are wired to cling to bad memories and discount good ones. This means that we are likely to obsess about our underdone Thanksgiving turkey and forget to enjoy the delicious stuffing, wonderful music, and exquisite company. During the holidays, practice being extra aware of the good things by pausing to be grateful throughout your day, even if it’s something as small as a co-worker who made you laugh or a nice cup of coffee or tea. An attitude of gratitude during this festive season will improve your mood and help keep your stress levels down.
- Enjoy Tech-Free Time. It’s easy to rely on our electronic devices for entertainment, even when we are enjoying quality time around the holidays. Try declaring bits of tech-free time for you and your loved ones. You might consider opting for taking a family walk, cooking a meal together, playing a board game, or looking through old photo albums.
- Do One Thing for Yourself Daily. Choose one daily self-care habit and make it non-negotiable. Ideas for your one thing include: getting outside for a 10-minute walk (no matter how cold it is, walking will increase blood flow and release endorphins to improve your mood); incorporating feel-good aromatherapy into your daily routine (citrus and peppermint scents have been shown to boost mood and alleviate stress by increasing levels of norepinephrine); or mindfully savoring a delicious treat (even a few bites of mindful eating can relieve stress and increase satiety). Remember, taking care of yourself will help you show up more for others this season.
In addition to these daily tips, consider enrolling in a local mindfulness offering to support your healthy holiday season. (There’s nothing quite like relaxing into a guided meditation with a likeminded community!)
If you’re in the Dallas area, check out an upcoming Mastermind offering to learn more about mindfulness tools to manage stress, improve mood, and increase health. I would specifically recommend Mindfulness for Holiday Anxiety and Mindful Meditation & Intro to Mindful Sound on December 7. Our full schedule of workshops is available at www.mindfuldallas.com.
Wishing for you a holiday season filled with self-care, connection and joy.
Dorsey & Mastermind offer a full schedule of weekend workshops. Learn more and sign up today by visiting www.mindfuldallas.com.
As Chief Mindfulness Officer of Mastermind Meditation, Dorsey Standish brings research-backed mindfulness and mindful movement to clients throughout the state of Texas. A lifelong learner and scientist, Dorsey has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and is enrolled in the UT Dallas Applied Cognition and Neuroscience Master’s Program. After mindfulness transformed her own work, health and relationships, Dorsey left her corporate role at Texas Instruments to share the power of mindfulness with others full-time. Dorsey’s teachings combine neuroscience research with her experiences in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program and multiple weekend and 10-day silent meditation retreats.