The holiday season is busy and stressful in ordinary times, but add a pandemic into the mix and things can start to feel pretty overwhelming. So how do you remain mindful during the mayhem and keep your stress levels in check? We’ve rounded up 7 ways to remain mindful and help you really enjoy the festive season.
1. Practice mindful eating
No matter how you spend your holidays, there will be food and lots of it. It can be so easy to over indulge and to stop paying attention to what we put in our mouths. Mindful eating is the process of slowing down, appreciating what we are taking in at meal times and really tasting our food. Remind yourself that there is no need to rush at this time of the year. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and when you are full, stop eating. When possible, only eat when you need to and it’s preferable to remove distractions like TV. This allows you to stay present with the food and the people in front of you.
2. Limit that spending
‘Tis the season of giving, but ‘tis also the season of feeling stressed about money! Between buying gifts, entertainment and travel, even the savviest shoppers can find themselves in a tight spot. So make sure you set a realistic budget that takes all your general expenses into account and plan for additional holiday spending. For next year, consider putting aside cash every month in the build up to the holidays – you will be so glad that you budgeted ahead of time. Also ensure that you make one financial decision at a time. When faced with too many decisions, the overwhelm can cause decision fatigue, reduce will power and increase the risk of overspending. Also ensure that you steer clear of tempting spaces like shopping malls which will do everything they can to lure you in and spend. If you do have to go into shopping centres, then consider taking only the cash you want to spend and not resort to relying on credit cards.
3. Manage expectations
Remember that things don’t always go according to plan – from dinner running 30 minutes later than planned, to quick-fire travel bans. These are unpredictable times and expectations need to be managed at every level. From where we are going to be geographically, to what you can expect to receive on Christmas morning, perspective is everything! Help your kids understand what you can realistically afford to do in terms of entertainment, gifts and travel. And remind them that this year, good health trumps a stuffed stocking.
4. Do some art, craft or baking
The year has been intense and you finally have some time to slow down. Art, craft and baking are so important as they are ‘grounding’ activities. Meaning that they slow things down and bring you into the present moment. So whether it’s sewing, baking, knitting or drawing, consider inviting a friend for a coffee and craft, and allow yourself the simple joy of making something in the moment.
5. Maintain normal routines
It can be tempting to sleep in, go to bed late and avoid exercise during the holidays, but actually your body and mind loves routine. Not only does a break in routine make it harder to get back to normal routine post-holidays, but it also leads to the lowering of concentration and can affect energy levels. So give yourself your lazy Saturday and Sunday but consider nice early mornings and nights in the week and make the most of your day.
6. Go for a walk
Physical activity reduces stress and a simple walk around the block can make all the difference when it comes to reducing stress levels. Walking decreases tension and stabilizes your mood and is also a great way to stay mindful and check in with yourself. Research even shows that encouraging the family to walk with you can reduce stress even further because working out in a group has the power to reduce stress levels by 26%.
7. Have fun
Don’t forget this one! As you decorate the tree, bake cookies or tick off to-do’s, give yourself permission to have fun! Make opportunities to have fun as a family. Laughter lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, lungs, muscles and of course releases endorphins – that’s why it always feels so good to laugh! So download some comedy, play a fun board game or watch a funny flick! Your body and mind will thank you.
The bottom line
Finding healthy and positive ways to manage your stress levels has so many positive effects on both body and mind. These 7 stress-busting trips will make all the difference in keeping things in perspective, rebooting your body and helping you re-centre during the busy festive season.