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December 19, 2019

Mindfulness Is Your Best Self-Help for the Holidays

We’re all looking forward to a merry and bright holiday season. But often the stress of the holidays, together with the scramble for gifts, the hectic pace, the friction with family or out-of-town guests inhabiting your home can take away from the holiday spirit of goodwill.
Engaging in a Mindfulness practice can be tremendously helpful in handling the chaotic schedules and people dynamics during the holidays. Mindfulness is a way of being present in the moment with total awareness. It enables you to bring the very best of yourself to holiday gatherings because it raises your consciousness. It gives you a feeling of expansiveness that lets you show up fully awake and authentic.
Here are some Mindfulness tips to use through the holidays to help replace stress with tranquility and kindness:
1. Start your day with focused breaths. When your days are a non-stop succession of back-to-back errands, appointments and tasks, it’s critical to take a moment to breathe and regain a sense of serenity. Before the busyness begins each day, pause to focus on your breathing. Taking a few conscious breaths will connect you with your inner stillness. Mindfully breathe into your belly or your heart with this simple exercise:

On the inhalation, (silently) count 1234-1.
On the exhalation, count 1234-2. 
On the inhalation, count 1234-3. 
On the exhalation, count 1234-4.
Repeat to the count of 10. 

The more you practice this, the more often you learn to willingly grab a pause whenever you need one. You’ll soon discover how important and helpful it can be throughout the business of the holidays to pause and breathe.
2. Strive to listen mindfully. You can be very busy and distracted during the holidays, which means you may not be doing such a great job of listening to others when they’re talking or asking questions. By being more attentive and making a concerted effort to listen more mindfully, you’re showing them that their opinion matters and they are worthy of receiving your undivided attention.
3. Give others your full attention. The holidays are a time for giving and showing others that you’re thinking of them. What better way to do that than to focus on the friends and family members that mean so much to you? Take time to ask them about themselves and how they are really doing. By focusing your attention on them and their lives, you’re showing that what matters to them matters to you.
4. Make meaningful resolutions. The end of the year is a time when, individually and as a family, you declare what you want to accomplish in the new year. Why not partner on resolutions among your family or friends on self-improvement goals — such as a regular Mindfulness practice? (Yes!) It’s often more inspiring and motivating to follow through on resolutions with others who will keep each other accountable. 
5. Express compassion through a thoughtful contribution. Show your family members your appreciation for them by donating to a nonprofit organization on their behalf. Loved ones appreciate when you include them in something that can make a difference in someone else’s life. It’s a gesture that acknowledges the importance of supporting those in need, while honoring those who make your happiness possible. 
During the holidays — and into the new year — give yourself the gift of a regular Mindfulness practice. By being more present and aware, especially during the busy and chaotic holidays, you can manage your stress and enjoy the season, while also showing your appreciation for your own well-being and that of others you care about each day of the year.  

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