Mindfulness over the Holidays

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What does being mindful mean? For me, it means living in the moment and being aware of what's happening to me right now. It's not about worry about where I am suppose to be in an hour, tomorrow, next week. It's about honoring the present, letting go of the past, and not worrying about the future. It's about taking a deep breath and observing.

Being mindful during the holidays can be a challenge. It will take a conscious effort on your part to do so, but I think you will find if you do, your holidays will be richer as a result.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in perspective what really matters:

  1. Build memories — A great way to build memories is to follow traditions. Traditions connect families and friends, they help us to bond and feel connected. Some of my favorite traditions are driving around our neighborhood with peppermint hot chocolate and looking at all of the lights with my husband and kids. We let our them open one gift on Christmas Eve, too, which is a major concession since when I was a kid, we couldn't get my parents up to let us open gifts until the coffee was made! Traditions come in many forms; do you eat any special foods? Do you spend all day in your pajamas? Do you sing together? Do you work in a soup kitchen or volunteer for those in need? Each is another opportunity to live in the moment and appreciate the specialness of each. It's the connection we feel to these memories that stay with us for a lifetime.

  2. Slow down — Plan your calendar around the things you really care about. If you are finding yourself rushed and feeling out of control, it's never too late to cancel upcoming events. It's hard to be mindful during an event if you are stressed out and on edge. Do what you care most about and take a few moments each day to reflect, reconnect with yourself and with what matters.

  3. Practice Gratitude — A dear friend told me once that the mind can not think a negative and a positive thought at the same time. When you start to feel overwhelmed, think about what you are grateful for, and allow that gratitude to force the overwhelm from your mind. Start a gratitude journal, right now, today. Write about the things, people, experiences, big or little, and declare your gratitude. Being grateful allows you to live in the moment and shifts our perspective toward the positive.

  4. Take care of yourself — In the hustle and bustle of things, it's easy to take care of everyone else but ourselves. We must make it a priority to take care ourselves each day. Remember to exercise, take advantage of the endorphins in the brain which help you better handle stress, even if it's just a walk around the block. Movement can make a difference. Do what you need to do to calm down, take a bath, read a book, meditate, pray, watch a movie — whatever it is, be aware that you are doing it to remain connected to yourself, peace, and mindfulness.

My hope for you is to have a wonderful holiday season and to live in the moment!