The holidays can be a joyful time, but they can also be a source of stress. Suddenly, there's a lot more on your plate than usual, but no more hours in the day. One way to recapture the magic of the season is to figure out which traditions really matter to your family and which ones you can relinquish. Once you've pared down your to-do list, you can strive to embrace the busyness of the season in the spirit of mindfulness. To that end, we offer:
Twelve Days of Mindfulness.
Pick twelve days in December; it doesn't have to be the actual twelve days of Christmas. On the first day, choose the mindfulness act that speaks to you the loudest. Then add a new mindfulness act every day. At the end of the twelve days, reflect on which practices work best for you, and make them permanent habits in the new year.
- When you wake, choose three priorities for the day. Write your chosen three on an index card to keep them front and center as you go through your day. That way, you stay focused on your intentions not whatever happens to grab your attention.
- Take 10 minutes to stretch soon after waking. While you do so, notice how each part of your body feels as it lengthens. Here's a nice routine to try.
- Create a relaxation cue. Choose something you do multiple times a day, like opening a door or looking in the mirror. Whenever you perform that cue, stop what you're doing and breathe deeply.
- Any time you have to wait in traffic, in line at the post office, on hold resist the urge to distract yourself with your cellphone. Instead, use the time to focus on your breathing and your surroundings, and let everything else go.
- Throughout the day, pay special attention to your thoughts. If you find you're dwelling on the past or anticipating the future, notice that, and gently return your mind to the present moment. What's happening now?
- Think of someone you appreciate. Really feel the gratitude for this person expand in your heart. Now share it with them, either out loud or in writing.
- Get outside, no matter what the weather. Ignore your brain's protestations, and see what it actually feels like to be in the weather that's happening today. Notice the warmth or cold of the day, the brightness or dimness, the dryness or damp.
- If you have small children, watch them play. Notice how in the moment they are, and try to remember how that felt. Is there any activity in your adult life that puts you in that kind of flow? Can you find a way to do more of it?
- In the middle of the day, even if it feels like there is absolutely no time, try one yoga pose. All of these calming poses can be done in five minutes or less.
- Put your phone on airplane mode for a couple hours in the evening. This setting on cell phones will prevent the device from sending or receiving calls and text messages, helping you be present for your family members and yourself.
- At the end of the day, ask yourself, What's working right now? and appreciate what's good in your life. Write it down in a gratitude journal.
- Experience the grounding power of a cup of Golden Milk. This sweet and savory Ayurvedic beverage has been used to support both body and mind for hundreds of years.* Pay attention to its aroma, its taste, and the warmth of the mug in your hand as you sip and center.