While the holiday season is my favorite time of the year, it also comes with some stress thanks to busy schedules, hectic stores, and last minute Christmas shopping. It is also when we make lots of plans in the hopes that everything will go smoothly on the big day. Then, without us really noticing, everything is over and we forgot to actually appreciate it.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually took some time to appreciate the beauty of this time of the year? The food we eat, the connections we make, and the magical atmosphere? If we actually enjoyed the present moment instead of worrying if everything is going according to the plan on the big day. Plans are great but it’s also very important to be able to enjoy the moment.
And not only during this time of the year. I’ve been noticing how much I live in the past worrying about what happened, or in the future worrying about what’s yet to come. Meanwhile, I’m wasting my present, the one I can actually have some control over.
For instance, I had a week off from work and my attention was more focused on dreading my last day of holidays, than actually appreciating my time off. Seriously, Joana?
That being said, here are some ways to be more mindful – not only this holiday season but all year round.
What is mindfulness?
I recently got The Little Book Of Mindfulness and it explains mindfulness as “being aware of or bringing attention to this moment in time, deliberately and without judging the experience.”
Simply put, it means that when you go for a mindful walk, you appreciate every aspect of it without worrying about the past or the future, or your 2 pages to-do list. It is about enjoying the small things, experiencing life as it’s happening, understanding how you really feel, reconnecting with your body and mind.
How To Be More Mindful This Holiday Season
This is something I struggle with quite a lot.
As I type this blog post, I had to stop myself a few times to not go do something else. Not that I am bored or don’t feel like writing, but because there are a million other things in my head or happening around me: from the sound of a notification on Twitter to my mom in the kitchen to checking out a blog that just came into my head. My procrastinator self doesn’t help, too.
But when I try to multitask, I can’t possibly do everything well because I’m dividing my attention. And I know I am not the only since we live in a time where multi-tasking is the thing.
Instead, why don’t you give all your attention to one thing at a time? Be present and focus on what you’re doing. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to stay present. For instance, most of our stress occurs when we are worrying about either the past or future. But like I said before, we can’t control any.
But it’s not that easy to change this, right? Something you can do is stop for only a few minutes throughout your day and shift your attention from your thinking to what you are experiencing. Focus on your breathing, the food you’re tasting and on what the person in front of you is saying. And that can bring a sense of calm.
Instead of letting the consumerism of the holiday season get the best of you, take the time to carefully think about the person you’re buying (or even making) a gift for. What is he/she going to truly appreciate or find useful?
Put Your Phone Down.
This holiday season, limit your digital usage and set a specific block of time to put down your phone. You’ll be amazed by how much more free time you have. I recently downloaded an app that is supposed to monitor the amount of time someone spends on their phone. Apparently, I spend almost 2 hours per day on my phone.
Instead of wasting so much time scrolling mindlessly through your social media feeds, take some time to disconnect and focus on the person in front of you. When you’re talking to someone, actually pay attention to what they’re saying instead of thinking what you’re saying next.
Take time to unplug and enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends.
This is the time of the year to look count your blessings and be grateful for the good things, small or big, you have in your life. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wishing we had this and that and forget to appreciate what we do have.
Create a habit that will last the whole year. Every night, write down in a notebook or on your phone 3 things you are grateful for. It can go from having amazing, supporting parents or best friend, to your morning cup of coffee to something that inspired you today.
Let Go Of Expectations.
The holiday season is full of high expectations that are not always met. Instead of focusing your energy on how things should be, stay present and adapt to changes. It’s okay if things don’t go according to the plan. As I’ve said before, it’s great to have a plan, but it’s more important to enjoy the journey and be open to the new possibilities that might come.
Show Kindness Towards Yourself.
The holiday season is not only time to show kindness towards others, but towards yourself, as well. In fact, kindness needs to be thrown around all year, right? Don’t forget to take some time to pamper yourself, your body & mind. Take care of your skin, spend some quiet time with your thoughts or binge watch Christmas movies with a hot cuppa. Simply do something good for yourself, whatever that is.