By Ariana De Andrado, LPC-Associate
The holiday season can be a stressful time filled with expectations; it can feel like you are expected to be in a joyous mood. There can be pressure and emphasis on how you “should” do things or feel. The holidays can be triggering for people for a multitude of reasons. Add on a global pandemic that has been raging this year with no end in sight and it can be very overwhelming. I am going to offer you some tips and mindfulness practices you can incorporate as we navigate this holiday season.
Give yourself permission to feel however you are feeling this holiday season. Do not try to tamp down any emotions; just allow them to be what they are. This also forces us to stay in the present and not avoid our emotions by numbing with things such as scrolling social media, turning on a TV show, drinking alcoholic beverages, etc. It also allows us to not beat ourselves up for feeling however we feel. We can feel shame when we aren’t happy or excited about the holidays. This year in particular has been extremely hard. Honor however you are showing up, your feelings are valid .
Mindfulness Practice #1:
A great way to allow ourselves to be and cultivate presence is by starting a meditation practice. You do not have to do this for very long at all.
You can start by just sitting up tall in your chair, feet firmly planted, shoulders rolled down your back, hands on knees, and then just focus on your inhales and exhales. This counts as meditation.
Start with guided meditations, such as the Calm App or just searching meditations on YouTube. I particularly like Loving Kindness meditations.
There is no right way to meditate. If your thoughts are still racing, it's okay. Just notice it. You are not doing it wrong. Like any skill it takes practice and consistency.
If you want to celebrate please do, but, if you do not please don’t. Honor traditions in whatever way you can this year. Being flexible with our expectations especially this year is extremely important. If this year you want to lay around in sweats and watch horror movies, then that is an acceptable way to celebrate. Release the pressure valve this year. You deserve to.
Mindfulness Practice # 2:
When we feel really stressed, that is the time we do not take care of ourselves but need to the most. Have you been drinking water? Did you get some fresh air? Did you move your body at all this week? Did you eat any veggies this week? Have you said a gratitude in your life this week?
All these are check in questions to ask ourselves when we get overwhelmed and stressed in life. These are simple ways we can take care of our body and mind.
Tip # 3:
Family, oh they can trigger us into acting like our childhood selves and can be so complex. This year with Covid deciding what is safe for us adds a whole other layer to these dynamics. Set boundaries and be firm with them and do what you are comfortable with. Firm but, respectful with our boundaries is the way we can navigate this year. We have to remember we can only control our own reactions but not other people.
Mindfulness Tip # 3:
Respond instead of react. A reaction is when we give into our first emotion which typically we don’t think all the way through. A response is where we take a pause and think through how we want to respond to someone. The pause makes all the difference.
In the pause can you focus on something that will help move the energy through your body. Have a dance party, run, a yoga session, etc. What physical movement speaks to you?
These are just some tips and tools to help navigate this holiday season; there are obviously many more. I hope they help. Please comment below if they do :)
If you would like more help navigating the holidays or in general please check me out under the page About Ariana. Or you can navigate to the tab Book Online to book a free 15 minute consultation with any of our Austin STRONG: RBC clinicians.