‘Tis the season to be mindful

It is easy to get lost and overwhelmed in the haste of the holidays. During such times, remembering to take a pause to bring our attention to the present moment can make a big difference in our lives and to those around us.

This is why, at this time of year, I want to share some simple practices that can help you find calm, build resilience and make this holiday season more enjoyable.

Use breath as your tool to come back to the present moment

Our breath helps us regulate our emotions. Through our breath we can activate our parasympathetic nervous system- the rest and reset centre and give the sympathetic part of the nervous system a break. Read more

Cultivate self-care

In the busyness of the holiday season, it can seem like there is no time for self-care. However, self-care is more than just a luxury, it is another way of calming our overstimulated nervous system and shifting from action and protection into the rest and reset state.

Make self-care a key part of your everyday life. You can start slow and gentle by simply reflecting on what is your relationship with self-care. Do you see it as something selfish? Does self-care mean expensive retreats or days at the spa or sitting down with a cup of tea or reading a good book? Perhaps you have well established self-care routine, but need a gentle reminder to return to the routine during the time of year?

Self-care looks different for each one of us and it may change at different stages of our lives, but it is as important as breathing, healthy eating and physical exercise.   

Here are a few things you can do when recognize the need to pause:

  • Notice your inner narrative- we are often our worst critics and our mind can often bring us into a place of judging the desire to look after ourselves. Notice when that happens and gently bring your attention back to planning to take time for self-care.
  • Taking a walk- whether it is a 10-minute walk around the block or a 2-hour hike, reconnecting to nature helps us calm our nervous system. While in nature, focus your awareness to the sounds, sights, smells and sensations you are experiencing.
  • Find something that makes you smile and spend a mindful moment basking in that experience. This can be watching your child play, listening to your favour piece of music or enjoying a cup of your favourite beverage.

Practice gratitude

Research has linked gratitude with a wide range of benefits, including improving sleep, experiencing more optimism, joy and pleasure and strengthening our immune system.

I begin my day with looking for things that I am grateful for. I have to admit that there were times in my life when I couldn’t find much to be grateful for, but even then, I couldn’t help but be thankful for waking up in the morning and the ability to breathe. I invite you to pause during the day and find few things you are grateful for.

Go ahead and try these few practices. Play with and see if you can incorporate them in your day as often as you can. Let me know how it goes!

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