If you’re not feeling full of joy and cheer this time of year, know you’re in good company. Even though the holidays can be a time of happiness and excitement, stress can result for many. And in 2020, with many holiday gatherings looking different this year, being upbeat may be more challenging than ever.
It can often feel more comfortable to head to a casino, racino, or online app to distract yourself from stress and chase the high of a win. But in the long term, the effects can be detrimental. So before you do that, consider mindfulness this holiday season.
Mindfulness is “bringing your attention to the present moment with an element of non-judgment and acceptance. It is noticing when we get caught up in thoughts about the past or the future, and returning our attention to the present — the only reality,” said Neda Gould, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and director of the Johns Hopkins Mindfulness Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Here are some helpful mindfulness tips to help you stay in the present this time of year:
Accept Imperfection: Remember that it is okay to not be perfect. And before you start planning your holiday gatherings — whether virtual or in-person — remember that things might not go exactly to plan. And that’s okay. We tend to set the bar incredibly high during the holidays and end up devastated if we don’t get there. Be gracious to yourself this year and accept imperfection.
Don’t lose sight of what matters: Whether it is the shopping lists, to-do items, or family relationships, the holidays can bring many unneeded stressors. During the busyness, ask yourself these questions: Where does this fit in the grand scheme of things? Can I use this moment of frustration as an opportunity to reflect? Even if this moment seems stressful, can I find a way to make it pleasant?
Respond with kindness: Things can get tense this time of year, and overreactions may occur with those around you. And while you can’t change others’ reactions, you can change how you respond. Remember that the people around you are likely going through the same stresses as you are. By stepping back and taking a few deep breaths, you can gain a new perspective on the conversation.