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Mindfulness For the Holiday Season

November 28, 2011


I don’t need to remind anyone that the holiday season is upon us.  Reminders are everywhere we look, even before the ghosts and goblins of Halloween have consumed all of their sugary treats.

We expect to be full of joy, excitement, anticipation.  Yet, this time of year can also bring increased stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression for many of us.  It is a time of year of excess – eating, drinking, spending, activity, and yes, expectations.  This time of year so many of us are multi-tasking, planning, going at a frantic pace, thinking ahead, and/or reminiscing about the past.  Our usual routines are turned upside down.  It is so difficult to stay in the moment!

This is when Mindfulness can be especially helpful: Mindfulness is the opposite of excess and multi-tasking. The practice of mindfulness, which has its roots in Buddhism, teaches us to live each moment as it unfolds. The idea is to focus attention on what is happening in the present and accept it without judgment.  The Holiday Season may be the perfect time to practice letting go of unrealistic and unnecessary expectations. 

Limit your spending to within your means.  There’s no need to create that perfect meal.  You don’t have to attend every holiday gathering.  If you’re alone, reach out to someone this year. 

Although Mindfulness practice is not simplistic, there are many simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life that can help to minimize the additional stresses of the holiday season and help you maintain balance throughout the year.   Take a walk and focus on nature, through one sense at a time.  Breathe in the fresh air.  Notice your surroundings through the eyes of your child.  Truly listen to the music.   Feel the dough in your fingers as you roll out the cookies…

First and foremost, take care of yourself and maintain your self-care routines.  Maintain healthy eating, sleep well and exercise, preferably outdoors.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that you cannot celebrate the holidays.  But pay attention to yourself.  If you find yourself feeling out of balance, then take the time and energy to re-focus and bring your self care to the fore-front, as needed.

Here’s a suggestion from Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, PhD for Mindful Breathing:


  1. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair. Sit upright, with your back straight (but not uncomfortably so).
  2. Gently bring your attention to your breath. There’s no need to change how you are breathing in any way, but just notice each breath as you inhale and exhale.
  3. Be aware of the sensations in your body as you breathe; observe what parts of your body move as you breathe.
  4. If other thoughts come in to your mind as you practice, acknowledge them and then gently shift your awareness back to your breathing again.
  5. Continue for 2 to 3 minutes or more, as you like.


Above all, if you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed, depressed or otherwise in need in need of support this Holiday Season, please ask for support.  In San Diego you can contact our Access and Crisis Line: 1-800-479-3339.

As always, we appreciate your input for Wellness Activities & Events.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 29, 2011 1:26 am

    Some of the best work I ever did with a therapist had to do with mindfulness. Thanks for the reminder.

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