7 Tips for Dealing with Holiday Stress Through Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of being present in the moment, both internally and externally. Mindfulness has been proven to improve relationship satisfaction, stress, overall emotional health, and increase empathy towards others. Practicing mindfulness regularly has also been shown to lower stress and anxiety. Practicing mindfulness during the holiday season can help make the busyness more enjoyable, and your connection with people more meaningful.

  1. Practice active listening. It can be easy to tune out during holiday conversations; however, you might be surprised by how rewarding active listening can be. Active listening works best when you remove distractions, pay attention, and hear what others say without judgment. Acknowledge what they are saying, nod, or engage directly by responding. Even when you may not agree, you can actively listen! Nobody can be different than they are. Their opinions are a product of their education, upbringing, temperament, religion, history, and peer group influence. You don’t need to comment on or engage with every idea of others. Instead get curious about how they came to that opinion.
  2. Be open to the emotions of others. You can increase your ability to connect when you are open and attentive to others’ challenges during this time of year. Holidays and family events can be a cauldron for difficult emotions. Unmet expectations, miscommunications, and losses can feel heightened this time of year. Allowing others to be themselves and not taking it personally will help. Connecting on a more personal level can also help bring relationships closer.
  3. Be considerate of the emotions within yourself. Holidays can bring up a range of emotions for you – whether good, bad, happy, sad, or a mix of it all. Pay attention to any difficult feelings you are experiencing and make the space you need to be present and acknowledge what you are feeling rather than just trying to push it aside.
  4. Let go of old habits or patterns. Even though holidays are typically full of traditions, the same pattern can bring about negative emotions or feelings. Maybe you find yourself engaging in the same conversations, reactions to others, traditions, or activities. Notice your thoughts and feelings and get curious. Open your mind to the possibility of new interactions and memories to be made, instead of being stuck with things you are carrying from the past.
  5. Let go of self-judgment. Connection during the holidays can lead to criticism towards yourself. In moments of self-judgment, take a step back and try to notice the “inadequate” feelings that surface. Remind yourself that you are human and fallible like everyone else on this planet and that you are doing the best you can. You also might remember that you are usually not 100% in control of things. Practicing mindfulness in moments like this will loosen the grip of negativity and help shift your mind towards more positive thinking about yourself.
  6. Recognize your own needs. Holiday obligations are important but learning to say “no” and setting boundaries within your social calendar is a vital step toward your health. Operating out of obligation leads to exhaustion, burnout, and resentment. Rather than focusing on perfection or showing up as others expect, say “no” to things that might not be necessary and don’t make your heart sing.
  7. Practice self-care. During the busyness of the holiday season, don’t forget to take care of yourself! After all, giving yourself the ability to relax and refresh will help you be kinder toward others and add a bit more pep to your holiday spirit!

The perfect image of the holidays you have built up in your mind, filled with expectations, rarely occurs. Instead of striving for perfection and letting the unimportant details cause you to worry, use the holidays to appreciate the people around you, enjoy holiday bliss, and find humor even in stressful moments. If you can learn to laugh at a tough situation, it can become a fun memory. Reach out to Mindful Being for more ways to connect with someone who can help you be more present and make this holiday season more enjoyable.