Check Your Health: Mindfulness during the holidays

Check Your Health - Mindfulness during the holidays
(KUTV) —Mindfulness is the mental practice of being present in a moment and being deliberately aware of our inner thoughts and surroundings in a nonjudgmental and accepting way. It has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep, and improve cognitive functioning says Stephanie Wilkinson, Lifestyle Intervention Coordinator at the Utah Department of Health. The holidays can be a very stressful time so by applying mindfulness strategies it can help reduce stress, while bringing a calming and attentive approach to your holiday season.

Mindfulness is accomplished by not focusing on the future or past which can result in not participating in our present lives fully due to distraction. It gives the individual the ability to respond to the events happening in their life instead of simply reacting to them. This is accomplished by acknowledging the feelings and identifying the source of those feelings instead of diverting attention to other tasks.

To avoid some additional holiday stress being aware and mindful of our consumption habits, whether it be food or shopping, can be helpful. Questions you can ask yourself include: Is this a need or is this a want? Am I eating because I’m hungry or am I eating because I’m stressed out? Am I dealing with difficult emotions that may be impacting my decisions? By answering these questions, it may result in less overindulging in either consumption or purchases.

Another strategy is to take yourself out of the stressful situation for a minute by stepping outside and taking a breath of fresh air. Gather yourself, return to the present moment, then go back inside to address the situation. Prioritizing your to-do list to include the things you’re most passionate about to be completed first and accepting imperfection can also remove some undue stress.

Practicing self-compassion is very important at all times, but especially during the holidays. Taking care of yourself allows you to be calmer and more attentive. Make sure to get enough sleep, participate in regular exercise, and include relaxing or fun activities in your schedule. When practicing self-care, it is possible to be kinder and more attentive to others, which can be especially important during the holiday season. It’s easy to be mindful and self-compassionate when everything is going great. It becomes difficult when things are chaotic or stressful which is why it is important to practice this skill before feeling the impact of the holiday stress.

Click to learn more about mindfulness during the holidays, managing holiday stress, or overall mindfulness.