Most of the time when we think about the holidays, we find ourselves daydreaming about the lights, parties, gifting, and time with friends and family. We daydream so much that we often forget how overwhelming this time of year can actually be before it’s too late. Mindfulness can help us refocus our minds and become more present in our experiences at home and at work.
Mindfulness, defined by mindful.org, is the “basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Mindfulness practice is not a one-day feat, it takes consistency and discipline.
To help you stay grounded this holiday season, our team of experts has outlined tips to jump-start your practice and tools that you can incorporate into day-to-day life and at the office.
1. Take responsibility for your experience.
First, it’s important to highlight and recognize that all the stress that we experience from work in addition to the holidays does not come from the holidays or our jobs themselves. Our seemingly endless to-do lists are not out to get us, we are choosing to let the lists, or that project at work, affect our emotions. Whether these stirring emotions arise subconsciously or actively, every single emotion that we feel comes directly from us. We are the creators of every experience that we encounter and the more we can remember this the more power and control we have over our lives.
Next time you recognize a feeling of anxiety, stress, and or anger, take a moment to stop and take a breath. Acknowledge these emotions because they are valid, but take it one step further and prompt yourself with the question “how will this reaction serve me throughout the rest of my day?” and go from there.
2. Engage in appreciation
Feeding into the step above, one way we can begin to take responsibility for our emotions is by appreciating people. For most of us, the holidays can either bring out the best in us or the worst in us. Rather than letting yourself become unraveled, take a step back from the situation. Reflect and remember that the person or people that are causing you to feel these negative emotions are the same ones you feel grateful to be with. This can be applied at work too, outside of the holidays we spend the majority of our time working. Take a moment to
To practice being consciously appreciative for the people around you, start by appreciating people. Gifting is a great way to express appreciation, and inviting people to select a gift of their choice reinforces your gratitude and how much you value them as an individual.
3. Practice self-love
It is difficult to love and appreciate others until we love and appreciate ourselves. Practicing self-love is the best way to achieve this. When you are engaging in activities that make you feel like the best version of yourself, you are simultaneously opening yourself up to the ability to genuinely appreciate, connect, and enjoy the present moment with coworkers or friends, and family. The act of self-love doesn’t have to be some grandiose plan, simply take 10 minutes or even 5, to yourself every day to do what makes you feel good. The little things will add up and over time you will be surprised by the changes in your relationships with others and even yourself.
4. Sweat it out
This step crushes two birds with one stone, exercising is a great addition to your self-love practice. Despite, exercise being the easiest item on the list to put on the back burner, it can be truly life-changing. After a long day at work, it can seem almost impossible to get yourself to the gym or outside. We are tired, stressed, or sometimes anxious and the idea of getting cozied up with your favorite comfort food and putting on a movie seems like a more appealing solution.
Incorporating just 30 minutes of any type of exercise a couple of times a week is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Regardless of being at the office or at home, take a quick break in the middle of the day by getting outside, stretch your legs, do a quick yoga session, maybe even go on a run. This may seem like another thing to add to your to-do lists but, your overall emotional state and productivity levels will feel much more balanced. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, stress and has been shown to improve self-esteem and cognitive function. With extra pressure from the holidays adding some form of exercise to your schedule will definitely help you feel more grounded.
5. Indulge mindfully
Holiday party season is in full swing and celebration after celebration among coworkers, friends, and family are now on the radar. During the holidays it can be tempting to overindulge in all the delicious seasonal goodies. This tip may sound strange, but a big portion of feeling grounded and balanced in our lives is the act of being mindful of what and how much of something we are putting into our bodies. You may be thinking, this is my one chance to blow off a little steam, or overindulging just this once won’t hurt me. These statements may be true, but it’s much more than that.
The act of sharing a meal brings people together, so instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the environment around you, take a seat. Gather a group of people, talk about the joys and challenges of the day. Slow down, enjoy and savor every sip and bite, you’ll be surprised how much more satisfied you feel. By doing this it is far less likely that we will wake up the next morning with belly aches or cloudy heads.
6. Use guided meditations
Mindfulness practice is not limited to taking care of our physical self, our mental health is just as important. Conquering mindfulness is no easy task, especially when work and holiday antics are taking over most of our minds. Luckily, there is an abundance of guided meditation apps that can help kickstart your new habit. Meditation is the practice in which we allow ourselves to sit in silence and focus on our minds. This type of practice can give you a sense of peace and balance within your mind and body and has proven benefits such as the reduction of negative emotions, stress management, increased self-awareness, and more.
It’s important to remember that when beginning a new habit such as mindfulness meditation takes time and nobody masters it on the first try, be kind to yourself. Guided meditation apps can be very helpful for this reason because you can curate and tailor your plan to best fit your needs. So whether you’re working from home or are on the go, break out your app of choice and find a place to sit.
7. Actively listen
It is easy to zone out in the middle of a conversation or company meeting and hop down the rabbit hole in your mind. We all have thousands of thoughts dragging us every which way, especially during the holidays. However, next time you recognize yourself going down that rabbit hole, pull yourself back up and into the present moment. You, your family, friends, and colleagues all crave to be heard. The easiest method of escaping the rabbit hole in your mind is to engage in active listening techniques. This can look like actively participating in conversations, prompting questions, and showing genuine interest or empathy.
Like most things in life the more times you do it the better you will get and this is true for active listening. Stronger and more authentic connections with your colleagues and family members will quickly develop. Through active listening, group rapport will become more cohesive which will help everyone feel like they are being heard and their needs are being met, ultimately resulting in and less stress and higher productivity.
Modern escapism is all around us. It can seem way easier to temporarily avoid your unruly emotions by scrolling through TikTok for hours or binge-watching your favorite shows. Sometimes we forget that our devices are not an extension of ourselves and we should not put the needs of Instagram before our own.
When visiting love ones this year, turn your phone completely off, or leave it in another room, far from reach. If travel is not in your future, take a few hours to yourself and pay attention to your needs. Social media is the catalyst for so many negative emotions, it plays tricks on our minds, making us crave more than we actually need and has us feeling let down by our reality in comparison to others. You’ll be surprised by how good it feels to put the devices away and be present to the environment and people actually around you instead of the imaginary world on your phone.
The holiday season can truly be a magical time of the year if we let it! Set time aside for yourself and be intentional with your thoughts and actions, appreciate people, and unplug when you need to. Remember that those work emails will still be there for you when you get back.