Embracing Tranquility: 10 Mindfulness Practices to Relieve Holiday Stress

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Mackenzie McDonald

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For a season centered around celebration, the holidays can be a deceptively stressful time of year. Between shopping for gifts, attending gatherings, and juggling travel plans, finding time to prioritize your well-being can be more challenging than usual. Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine is a powerful way to cultivate a sense of calm and protect yourself from burnout in the midst of the holiday hustle. In this article, we’ll explore ten mindfulness practices to help you navigate the rest of the season with balance and grace.

 

 

10 Mindfulness Practices

1. Morning Meditation

Start your day off with a brief meditation session. Meditating for just a few minutes in the morning can set a positive tone for the rest of the day and enhance your resilience to stress. One of the many beauties of meditation is its simplicity: anyone can do it, and it requires zero equipment. Find a quiet space, sit comfortably, and focus on your breath. Allow your mind to settle, bringing your attention to the present moment. If you’re new to the practice, consider downloading the free Insight Timer app for a wealth of guided meditations to get you started.

 

2. Gratitude Journaling

Take a few moments each day to jot down things you’re grateful for. Reflecting on positive aspects of your life can shift your perspective and bring about a greater sense of contentment. According to a New York Times article, “To date, numerous studies have found that having a grateful outlook, ‘counting one’s blessings’ and expressing gratitude to others can have positive effects on our emotional health as well as on interpersonal and romantic relationships.” When it comes to the contents of your entries, feel free to freestyle, or check out this helpful list of journaling prompts from Oprah Daily.

 

 

3. Digital Detox

Allocate specific times throughout the day to unplug from all your electronic devices. A study cited by WebMD found that “around 25% of smartphone owners between ages 18 and 44 don’t remember the last time their phone wasn’t right next to them.” Constant notifications and messages can elevate stress levels and lead to a number of unpleasant consequences, including “self-image problems, low self-esteem, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, [and] weight gain,” to name a few. To avoid the negative effects of needless scrolling, create boundaries to foster a more mindful and present experience during holiday gatherings and beyond.

 

4. Mindful Eating

Savor the flavors and textures of your meals by practicing mindful eating. Pay attention to each bite, chew slowly, and appreciate the nourishment your food provides. This practice can enhance your enjoyment of holiday treats while promoting healthy habits. It’s important to note that mindful eating is not synonymous with dieting or restricting; the purpose of the practice is to develop a more meaningful relationship with all types of food. In other words, don’t skip dessert. Just take your time eating it.

 

 

5. Breathing Exercises

Incorporate simple breathing exercises into your daily routine. While it might feel unnatural at first to pay close attention to your breathing, deep, intentional breaths can activate the body’s relaxation response, helping to alleviate tension and anxiety. One popular breathing technique for stress reduction is the 4-7-8 method. To try it, first empty your lungs of air. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, then hold your breath for seven seconds. Finally, exhale forcefully through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this cycle three to four times.

 

6. Nature Walks

Take a break from the yuletide chaos by intentionally connecting with nature. Whether it’s a stroll in the park or a hike in the mountains, spending time outdoors can rejuvenate your mind and body. The National Park Service reports that “walking in nature reduces inflammation and boosts your immune system, which decreases the risk of certain diseases and cancers.” Studies have also shown that “physical activity in a green space can reduce stress and lower cortisol levels by 15%.” So, next time you’re feeling the burn, lace up your shoes and get outside.

 

 

7. Setting Boundaries

Learning to say no can be a difficult skill to master, but it’s essential to protecting your peace –– especially during the holiday season, a time of social gatherings galore. It’s okay to decline invitations or limit commitments to prevent overwhelm and exhaustion. In fact, the better you get at establishing healthy boundaries, the more present and energized you’ll feel at the social gatherings that you do attend. For tips on how to turn people down when you need to, check out this helpful guide from Psychology Today.

 

8. Yoga or Tai Chi

Engage in gentle movement practices like yoga or Tai Chi. These activities not only promote physical well-being but also encourage mindfulness through focused, intentional movements. Joining a yoga studio or attending a Tai Chi class can be expensive, so if that’s not in the cards for you right now, don’t worry. Many excellent instructors make their practices free and accessible online. If you’re looking for suggestions, one of my favorites is Yoga With Adriene.

 

 

9. Guided Imagery

Practice guided imagery or visualization to create mental images that evoke an inner sense of peace. Imagine yourself in a serene place, allowing your mind to momentarily escape from your current environment. MentalHelp.net explains, “Guided imagery can be practiced in isolation, but it is frequently paired with physical relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation and massage. When guided imagery is paired with physical relaxation techniques, the aim is to associate the sensations of relaxation with the peaceful visual image, so that future practice sessions involving imagery alone will quickly bring back to mind the physical sensations of relaxation.” Interested in giving it a try? Here’s a great guided imagery video from the National Institute of Mental Health.

 

10. Mindful Reflection

End each day with a moment of thoughtful reflection. Consider what went well and acknowledge your efforts. You can also acknowledge things you wish had gone better, but be careful not to dwell too much on the past – analyze perceived failures or disappointments with compassion, and think of ways you can set yourself up for success in the future. This practice can foster a positive mindset and help you recognize the small wins that happen every day.

 

 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to managing holiday stress, incorporating mindfulness practices into your routine can make a huge difference. By embracing tranquility through meditation, gratitude, and intentional living, you can navigate the season with a greater sense of calm and appreciate the joyous moments that make this season such a special one.

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