The holidays might be the most wonderful time of the year, but there can also be the most stressful time of the year! Being mindful is simpler than you might think. Basically, it’s getting off your auto-pilot….Here are 10 mindfulness tips to enjoy the holidays without getting carried away.
Going outside and getting fresh air will give you a chance to disconnect, breathe more deeply and forget about your do-to-lists. If you have some time off, take advantage to practice sports you might not usually get to do. If it’s snowy, try cross-country skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing. If you don’t have snow, hike, bike or surf! If you don’t really have time off, being active is still a possibility, play a quick game of soccer in the backyard, throw a ball with your kids or even hula hoop in the living room. Finding your inner child will help you relax.
And then, of course, on a more scientific note, there’s the endorphin. Simply put, these hormones are released in your body when you do any form of physical activity. The increase of these happy hormones in your body leads to a feeling of euphoria, modulation of appetite, and an enhancement of the immune response which in turn will help to combat the negative effects of stress. On top of the endorphin, getting your sweat on during the holidays will relax tense muscles and tissues and release stress-related aches and pains such as neck or back pains and headaches.
2. EAT MINDFULLY
Parties and big meals are often part of the holiday routine, but you don’t have to spend two weeks feeling stuffed like a turkey.
We usually eat more often than on regular days. Try to eat when you’re hungry and to have smaller portions, keeping in mind you might eat more often than 3 times a day. Serve yourself in a plate instead of eating directly from bags, boxes or buffet tables. Seeing the amount you eat will help you gauge your hunger. Eat slowly, taking a full breath between each bite and putting your utensils down. Did you know that the 2 or 3 first bites of a meal are the most savory and most enjoyable? Take advantage! Try to guess/notice the ingredients and enjoy the flavors!
The first sign your body will send you when you are getting dehydrated is hunger, but in fact, you’re not hungry, you’re thirsty. Keeping that in mind, staying hydrated will help you to not over-eat. Also, during the holidays, we tend to drink more alcohol than average, and since it’s a diuretic, it’s another reason to drink water. To cut back or make sure you also get a hydrated, try alternating cocktails with glasses of water or keep alcohol only to accompany the meals…
You have a few days off? TAKE ADVANTAGE! Stay in, don’t get dress, watch movies and order in! Make sure you get plenty of sleep to recharge your batteries.
Activate your “rest and digest system”… Take a Yin or Restorative Yoga class or simply take a few minutes here in there to breathe mindfully, taking deep inhales and long exhales.
Being vs doing is a tough challenge. Society values taking actions, getting stuff done and accomplishing goals. If this is your main focus, life might be passing you by. Put down your to-do list. Remove I should… from your vocabulary. Connect with the present moment to allow things to happen and enjoy the process. There’s no reason to start thinking about going back to work until you get up that morning, ok, maybe the night before.
Expectations of the holidays can also be a big source of your stress. Let go of those and enjoy as everything unfolds.
6. DON’T SWEAT THE GIFTS
For real. Starting early and spreading your trips to the mall will help your stress level and your wallet. Make a list and stick to it. Wrap the gifts as you go so it doesn’t become an overwhelming task. Consider buying anything you can online to avoid crowds or offer gifts that are active so you can spend time with that person.
7. DON’T OVER SCHEDULE
Overscheduling is one of the most stressful parts of the holidays. Running from one place to the next will make it harder for you to enjoy your time. You don’t need to accept every invitation you receive. Learn to say no. Don’t try to please everyone. Maybe see if you can combine events, like seeing friends that know each other at the same time instead of separately.
Make sure to allow yourself some quiet time every day. Even 5 to 10 minutes alone can drastically reduce stress levels.
8. STOP AND REFLECT
Before the new year arrive, as you take some time to relax and rest, reflect on your year. Journal or talk with friends about it. Close the chapters that were left open, say your peace, and let go of what you don’t want to carry into the new year.
Maybe you also can reflect on what this time of the year represents for you, or what you would want it to be.
9. SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Depending on your relationship with them, this can be an obvious or strange tip…If that sounds stressful, try to observe people with a light spirit instead of judgment. Be compassionate, find what you have in common instead of what makes you different.
If it sounds nice to you, take advantage and cherish the moments. Pretty simple.
10. DELEGATE OR ASK FOR HELP
I hope those tips will help you get the most out of the holidays. I would love to know which works the best for you or which one is challenging. For myself, during the holidays, I also try to unplug. Mixing #4 and #8, putting the computer away, and getting off social media is always a nice way to add to the relaxing feeling of vacations!
Have the most wonderful time during the holidays! See you next year!