Just the phrase “holiday season” can cause anxiety. This time of year often accompanies stressful family gatherings, long shopping lists, crowded stores, and an extra full calendar of obligations at work, school, and in life. We’re here to remind you that your schedule is still your own. You have a say in the number of events you volunteer for and whether you host the Thanksgiving meal. When you’re bombarded with choices, the most important one you can make is to take a calm breath and slow down.
Be more present while prepping.
Rather than getting overwhelmed by holiday prep, deliberately look for opportunities to make more mindful decisions during your day. Whether you’re putting on mascara, brushing your teeth, or lacing up your shoes—really think about your actions rather than just going through the motions.
- Making dinner: How do the onions smell as they sauté? What sound does the knife make as it slices through carrots? Paying attention to the sights, smells, and sounds of dinner will bring more appreciation for what you’re doing as you stay present in your prep work.
- Cleaning the house: Oftentimes, the holidays mean extra houseguests. Welcome an opportunity to connect with family as you put on your favorite playlist and have fun preparing for their arrival. Notice the magical cleaning effect of the vacuum and the calming effect of completing much-needed organizing in the pantry.
When you’ve finished your chores, acknowledge a job well done. Feeling appreciation for your well-cooked meal and clean home encourages you to feel gratitude in other areas of your life, too. Be proud of your hard work.
Find 5-minute breaks while working.
Rather than staring blankly at the computer screen after long stretches of productivity, give yourself a break! We recommend setting the timer for 55 minutes or so and scheduling a 5-minute break every hour. Alternate between moments of movement and mindfulness.
Get up from your desk and loosen up your body. Rotate your wrists after spending time typing and gently stretch your neck from side to side. Open up your chest to counteract rounding forward over your computer and twist side-to-side to release tension in your back from sitting.
Take your eyes off your computer and onto your journal. Spend a few minutes jotting down what you’re grateful for: both the small and the big. Express appreciation for the small desk you’re working on and big opportunities to go after your dreams. Learn more about why gratitude matters, here.
Find space to slow down.
Where can you take more time to enjoy life throughout your day? Even a busy day has space for you to slow down and be more intentional with your actions.
- Drive slower. Do you find yourself checking your rearview mirror as you drive through yellow lights about to turn red or when pushing the boundaries of the speed limit? Stop! Saving a few extra seconds here or there won’t matter if you’re driving recklessly or being issued a ticket. Challenge yourself to stay just under the speed limit instead.
- Eat slower. Take your time and focus on really tasting your food. Is it sweet, salty, tangy, or tart? Notice how your tastebuds fire with each new flavor you introduce into your mouth. Fill your body with nutritious foods that will make you feel great and fuel your day with energy as you savor each bite.
- Talk slower. Do you ever find yourself rushing through your conversations, trying to get your point across quickly so that you can move on? Try slowing down, explaining yourself clearly, expressing yourself fully, and then really listening to what the other person has to say in response. You’ll be amazed at how much your relationships strengthen when you focus on slowing down your communication.
- Move slower. Described as an “internal martial arts,” tai chi is a wonderful practice that merges movement with mindfulness. Enjoy the slow, fluid exercises as you focus on strengthening your muscles while improving your balance.
As you continue to find moments for mindfulness and opportunities to slow down even when life speeds up, you’ll find you can enjoy life’s little moments of joy as well as the big, exciting parts, too. These suggestions might feel like extra work at first, but before long, they’ll become a way of life.