This time of year, people often find themselves overdoing it.
The problem isn’t so much in breaking with routine around the holidays, but that self-regulating during celebration doesn’t happen as much as it should. Have you ever felt that you’re so busy shopping for gifts, traveling to parties, or preparing food that you don’t actually enjoy the moments of rest, family, and friends that the holidays are supposed to bring? You’re not alone.
Research supports that practicing mindfulness allows you to be more aware, more productive, and more confident when making decisions. Everyone can benefit from this, especially around the holidays. Mindfulness practices bring many benefits—and the more we practice, the better we get.
You don’t have to be an expert at mindfulness to get the benefits. Mindfulness can begin in small doses and in a variety of ways until you hit your stride.
1. Take a breath.
If you picture people sitting in the lotus position under a tree, it’s time to expand your vision! Mindfulness can happen anywhere or anytime. Sit upright and relax your shoulders. Close your eyes. Take in three deep breaths. When ready, open your eyes.
2. Enjoy one bite at a time.
Mindful eating is a practice where you really get to experience tasting your food. Slow down as you’re eating. Take time between bites to put down your utensil. Notice what is on your plate and be grateful for it. As you savor the flavors, consider how every bite is providing nourishment to your body.
3. Make intentional lists.
Be mindful as you prepare for the holidays. When you make a list and check it twice, give yourself permission to sit down in a quiet place. Take a deep breath, ask yourself what is most important about this list, and then start writing. Slowing down to set a plan can give you clarity and help you prioritize.
4. Practice mindful giving.
Mindful giving is a concept where you consider the gift of your presence, time, or money. For instance, choose to do an activity with a friend or family member and give them your full attention. When making homemade gifts, think about the people who will receive them, and imagine their joy when they open it. Does your favorite aunt love rescue dogs? Is your neighbor passionate about mental health? Consider giving a financial donation in their honor to an agency that does work in those areas.
One of my favorite mindfulness practices is called the Lovingkindness Meditation. The purpose is to increase positivity toward oneself and others. My favorite words to use are: “May I be healthy. May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be at peace.” Once you state those words for yourself, then you alter the words for others: “May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you be safe. May you be at peace.”
Church Health at Crosstown Concourse has a variety of weekly classes and workshops that blend mindfulness practices into daily life. Classes include weekly mindfulness sessions, Mindful Yoga, Tai Chi, and more. These classes are open to all members of the community, and many are free. Go to ChurchHealth.org/Calendar to learn more.
Whatever mindfulness practice you try or wherever you decide to do it, view it as a gift that you are giving to yourself. You will feel the benefits while you are practicing it, and, more importantly, it will start to help you move through your daily life.
Kimberly Baker is the Founder of The Well, home to Church Health wellness programming for children and families. She has served as Manager for the last 19 years. She is passionate about creativity, movement, and mindfulness and loves spending time with her family.