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Tips to Help You Stay Mindful Over the Holidays

There is something about the time between Thanksgiving and New Years that has magical flare. Maybe it’s because neighborhoods are blanketed in twinkly lights, or that festive music plays in all the stores, or perhaps it’s the abundance of parties—but as much as I enjoy this time of year, I also know that it can be stressful, annoying, or even lonesome at times.

Here I will share a few tips that help me stay grounded, well-balanced and mindful during the holidays, in hopes it can help you, too.

First I want to start by clarifying what the word mindful, or mindfulness means; which is a therapeutic technique where a mental state is achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

With that said, here are my top tips to help you stay present & calm this holiday season:

1. Practice your practices.

Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean we have the green-light to ignore our practices. It's actually quite the contrary. If you exercise throughout the year, make sure you also exercise during the holidays. For some that can be cardio, others that can be strength training, and others that can be mindfulness practices such as yoga or meditation. Whatever it is that you do regularly, try and do over the holidays because it will help you stay grounded and feeling a semblance of normalcy.

2. Find time for yourself.

There will be distractions galore over the holidays, so I suggest carving out quiet time so that you can be with yourself. That will look different for different people but some nice ways can be taking a walk in nature, or diving into a good book, or sitting at a pub and having a drink solo. No matter what it is that you choose to do, I recommend being fully present so you can reap the benefits of your solace.

3. Express Gratitude.

Journaling is a great way to express gratitude, but if writing in a journal is not your jam, then I recommend keeping a post-it pad next to your bed and when you open your eyes each morning, write the thing you are most grateful for at that time. It could be a good dream you are grateful for, or a warm bed to sleep in, or for the opportunities that may present themselves to you on that particular day. It can be anything. And, if jotting down ideas doesn’t sound fun or realistic, then speak (either silently or aloud) one thing you are grateful for each morning that you wake up over the holiday season. Just speaking or thinking a gratitude can have a positive impact on your state of mind. And, if you are the crafty type, I recommend creating a gratitude tree, or bush that you can decorate. You can use lights, ornaments, cards, photos, notecards, or even one of your post-its, and each day when you look at the tree (or bush) you will be reminded to recite a daily gratitude.

4. Get your Zzz’s.

I am all for having fun, but if there are holiday parties or celebrations that will keep you out past your normal bedtime, I recommend trying to get a good night sleep the day before. If that isn’t feasible, try and catch up on sleep another day during the week. We all have different sleep requirements, but if you are one of those people that needs eight hours of sleep a night, try and adhere to your schedule, so if you have to leave the party early, or go into work an hour later the next day, then honor that and yourself.

5. Indulge and feel zero guilt.

The holidays are a festive time so simply try and enjoy yourself. If you are invited to holiday gatherings, you will likely see yummy treats that you’re not used to seeing regularly, but if the calling is there to have Christmas cookies, or chips and dip, or a handful of Gelt, then go for it. You only live once and indulgence is healthy every once in a while! One of the keys in life is balance, so eating something you love won’t kill you; rather it will likely lift your spirits.

6. Donate, volunteer, or give.

I abide by a saying that: It is in giving that we truly receive —and that can look different for different people. Some ways that may make you feel good about yourself this holiday season is donating, volunteering, or giving. If you decide you want to donate, I suggest donating goods or services to a charity that feels good to you, such as women’s shelter; or if you choose to volunteer your time, you may want to visit a homeless shelter where you can serve meals to the less fortunate. Another feel-good way of giving is fulfilling a Christmas wish thorough Operation Santa— where you answer Dear Santa letters from kids in need. And, a simple, yet very impactful way to feel good can be by visiting a relative, or an old friend over the holidays and sharing some time together.

Wishing you a joyous and mindful holiday season, my friends!

With Love & Light,

Janine Forte

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