5 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress using Mindfulness

joy

Enjoy this holiday season without the stress.

The holidays are some of the most stressful periods of the year.  The stress however usually stems from how we react to situations rather than the situations themselves.  Paying attention to, or being mindful of, how we react to stressful situations allows us the space we need to choose more healthy and effective responses and helps us to reduce the associated stress.

Mindfulness is: “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Using that definition as a guide; here are 5 tips for reducing stress over the holidays.

1. Remember to breathe
If your attention is all over the place worrying about what to get for who, how you’ll manage the family dinner, or spending too much or eating too much, take a breather.  Any time you feel yourself starting to get wound up or stressed out, stop for a second and notice yourself breathing.  Doing this brings you into the present moment so that you can focus your attention. Then, you can gather yourself and decide what to do first.

2. Plan ahead
Mindfulness emphasizes the importance of keeping your attention in the present moment – not in the past – or in the future;  thinking about what did happen or will happen.  You can’t change what did happen (only your relationship to it) and you do not know what will happen in the future.  That said, you can plan in the present moment – taking time to decide ahead of time what you will buy for whom, how much to spend, or what you will prepare for the family dinner.

3. Set a budget
One of the most stressful parts of the holidays is the expense.  Overspending is usually more stressful than it’s worth.  Stop to think about why you feel the need to spend more than you can afford to.  Do you want someone to think of you in a certain way? Is it because you want their attention or approval?  Will overspending actually accomplish that?  If it does you may want to re-evaluate that relationship. Or is it because that’s the way it was done in your home when you were younger and you never questioned the wisdom of that before?  Mindfully set a budget. Be realistic about what you can spend and stick to it.

4. Eat and drink mindfully
Overeating and drinking generally leads to added weight, hangovers (or worse), and guilt.  Pay attention to what and how you are eating and drinking.  Slow waaaay down.  You may notice that you don’t need to eat nearly as much, may not even like some things that you normally eat on auto-pilot, and enjoy not getting drunk with its potential consequences.  Try this and see how you feel afterwards.

5. Drop the judgment
If you find yourself stuck in the “shoulds” you know that your judge is active in your experience either judging yourself or someone else.  If you do happen to overindulge don’t waste time and energy beating yourself up about it.  If you find yourself judging others for their inability to do things the way YOU would like them, cut them some slack.  Most of us are doing the best we can.  We just may do it slower/faster, or in a way you haven’t considered before.  Drop the judgment, send yourself and other people some compassion and see how your experience changes.

Bonus Tip: Give some love
One of the best ways to feel joy any time is to give to someone else. Joy is stress-free.  And, the best part is that to give doesn’t necessarily equate to spending.  Give of yourself; your time, your attention, your abilities to someone who needs them including your own family.  Giving of yourself is expressing love.  We all have it to give and we all need to receive it.  It costs nothing and is in unlimited supply so you don’t need to be a Scrooge with it.

Sending you wishes for a wonderful stress-free holiday season.

Cheers!

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