How many of us find ourselves struggling to “keep it together” over the holidays? It’s an all too familiar story. In fact, one recent study showed that the stress of holiday shopping can increase your heart rate by 33 percent!
Give your sanity and your heart rate a break with mindfulness. Instead of letting the holidays be one more thing in life that throws you off course, let these easy-to-follow tips help you gift yourself with more peace and less stress this season.
Mitigate Stress, Tap Into Peace
Fighting traffic, bundling the kids up in snow gear, caring for aging parents, planning holiday meals and parties: When the holiday stressors are piling up, here are some mindfulness tips to help you turn down the chaos and tap into peace.
1. Drop Down: When you experience stress, emotional upset, or general holiday overwhelm, allow yourself to drop down into the emotion and see what’s there. Do your best not to judge it; simply observe it with curiosity. This is the heart of what mindfulness is all about. It takes practice, but pretty soon you will be able to tune into your body and notice what’s happening inside you.
2. Self-Soothe: Evidence shows that putting your hand over your heart — or wherever you most find it soothing — taps into the body’s mammalian caregiver response and releases oxytocin and opiates in your brain to counteract cortisol, the stress hormone. Try different spots out on yourself and see what works best for you. You can do this at home, at work, in the car, or wherever you need comforting. Even if there are other people around, most won’t notice if you casually cross your arms (embrace yourself) or take one hand in the other and hold it with compassion, for example. You might need to save cheek caresses or other more overt soothing touches for a quiet moment alone, but you get the idea. Work with the time you have and the space you’re in and create a more soothing experience for yourself.
3. Practice Loving Kindness on Yourself: Ask yourself what you really need to hear right now. Do you need to be told you are loved? Safe? Healthy? Strong? Whatever you most need to hear right now, create a Loving Kindness phrase and repeat it as a mantra to yourself. For example, “I am loved. I am safe. I have all that I need to live in joy.” You can do this in seated meditation, but you can also do it on a walk, in the car, at the office, in line at the DMV, or anywhere else you need to. Try this out next time you feel stressed and see much it helps.
The holidays can be overwhelming, no doubt, but using these mindfulness tools can allow you to shift into a more positive holiday experience. Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of a more peaceful you this season.
About: Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, and completed the Positive Neuroplasticity Training Professional Course with Rick Hanson. Now, she shares these and other mindfulness techniques with the world through her Mindful Methods for Life trainings and her new book: “Life Falls Apart, but You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm In the Midst of Chaos.” For more information, visit www.MindfulMethodsForLife.com.
Mindfulness expert and author Julie Potiker is an attorney who began her serious study and investigation of mindfulness after graduating from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of California, San Diego. She went on to become trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, [...]