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It’s the most wonderful time of the year– but also the most stressful!
The holiday season can easily boost your mood…or your anxiety. While people are out and about singing Christmas carols and baking cookies, you might find yourself lost and stuck in your obsessive thoughts. Anxiety totally sucks. However, by learning how to practice mindfulness, you’ll have the ability to quiet your overactive thoughts and refocus yourself back into the present moment. Keep reading further to learn how to practice mindfulness this holiday season with 50 examples to get your focus back into the here and now.
So what is mindfulness?
According to Mindful.org:
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Whenever we focus on our 5 senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell) or our state of mind (thoughts and emotions), we are practicing mindfulness. We are bringing ourselves back into the present moment.
Many people assume that the practice of mindfulness is quieting the mind. That’s actually not true! The objective of mindfulness is to pay attention to the present moment without judgment. And yes, it’s definitely easier said than done.
Headspace is an example of one of many mindfulness and meditation apps you can download on any of your mobile devices. They have an awesome (and free!) introduction series on meditation and mindfulness which compares your thoughts to clouds in the sky. They emphasize that it’s important not to judge each thought, but rather acknowledge it’s presence, and continue to let that thought roll by (just like a cloud!).
With mindfulness, we are rewiring our brains by continually refocusing ourselves back into the present moment. With time, we learn not to get caught up in our anxiety and overactive thoughts.
Mindfulness is not some bullsh*t someone made up either! It’s the real deal and totally backed up by science. Like therapy, it often aids people suffering from anxiety, depression, mental and physical pain, etc. Not to mention, it’s cheaper than therapy, and available for you 24/7/365!
Like many other things, mindfulness takes time and practice. Trying it once won’t instantly heal you of all your stresses and burdens. But with practice, you’ll feel the many benefits of mindfulness.
With that being said here are 50 examples of how to practice mindfulness this holiday season:
How to practice mindfulness during the holidays:
- Feel the chilly weather, or warm sun radiating on your skin.
- Smell and acknowledge the fir scent from your Christmas tree.
- Witness the glow of your or someone else’s holiday light display.
- Notice any tightness or looseness in your body when you wake up in the morning and when you go to sleep.
- Feel the coziness and comfort of warm fuzzy socks.
- Hear the backdrop Christmas music while you’re shopping for holiday goodies.
- Feel the warmth of your family and friends when you exchange a hug or kiss.
- Taste the sweetness of your Christmas honey ham.
- See the smiles on your loved one’s faces.
- Notice any stuffiness, sore muscles or weakness in your body.
- Smell the cookies baking in the oven.
- Taste the cookie dough (without raw eggs of course 😉 ).
- Watch Christmas movies and shows on television.
- Watch the annual tree lighting on TV or in your hometown.
- Feel the warmth of the yarn on your hat and scarf.
- Taste the warmth of hot chocolate, coffee, or a mix between them both.
- See the colors, patterns, and designs of holiday wrapping paper.
- Feel the heat in your muscles as you increase your heart rate with exercising and lifting weights.
- Notice the shape of your Christmas tree, and acknowledge the texture of the needles.
- Feel the ease and smoothness of your scissors gliding through holiday wrapping paper.
- Feel the warmth of a warm shower or bath after a long day of work or shopping.
- Acknowledge the texture of your baking materials as you cook your holiday Christmas cookies.
- Feel the stretch in your muscles as you loosen up during a weekly yoga class.
- Feel your fingers glide against the keyboard while you do your online shopping.
- Hear the Christmas bells outside your favorite stores (and donate some extra coins if you can!)
- Notice your Christmas lights reflecting off the tree ornaments.
- Feel the gravity of your body weight sink into the couch while you relax.
- Taste the bite of a delightful Christmas cocktail.
- Observe the bright red and white leaves of the annual poinsettia crops.
- Hear the shopping carts wheel against the tile flooring of stores and shops.
- Smell the Christmasy aroma of seasonal candles.
- Hear the crunch of dried autumn leaves or freshly fallen snow under your winter boots.
- Notice the overcast skies and first flurries of the season (if you haven’t already gotten snow).
- Feel the chill of each individual snowflake hit your face or hands, and slowly melt into a cold water droplet.
- Watch the glaze and smell the cinnamon ooze down the fresh outta the oven cinnamon rolls.
- Notice the flickering flame and slow melting wax from your holiday candles.
- Feel the thickness of yarn from any custom-made holiday projects.
- Acknowledge the seas of red and gold glitter through all the stores while you shop for new Christmas decorations.
- Feel your ice skate evenly against your feet as you glide on the smooth ice.
- Notice the heat generated throughout your body when you shovel your driveway during the first significant snowfall of the season.
- Take in the view while riding a chairlift at your favorite ski/snowboarding resort.
- Feel the blood rush throughout your fingers and toes as you unfreeze by the fireplace.
- Smell the burning wood as you take a stroll on a cool evening or early morning.
- Notice the wind against your skin as you take a daily walk outside.
- Feel the warmth of your bedsheets and comforter against your skin in the early morning hours.
- See your breath as you breathe out when you’re outside in colder weather.
- Look up at the stars and moon during a clear evening.
- Take a walk or stroll to the rhythm of your breathing.
- Take care of yourself – get enough sleep, eat right, stay hydrated and exercise.
- Stay mindful of your senses even during the most mundane tasks (commuting, shopping etc).
Take 5 to 10 minutes in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted just to focus on your breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, & breathe out for 8 seconds. Notice how your chest expands and contracts with each breath. When your mind wanders, acknowledge that, and refocus your breath.
With all the built-up stress during the holidays, we humans tend to focus on our negative experiences and not so much the positives. When things get overwhelming, take a step back and create a list of everything you’re grateful for. You’ll be surprised to know you’ve got a lot of things to smile about throughout the day– even when you’re having a terrible one!
The holidays can be especially hard for many this time of year, so what better way to show gratitude by giving back to those in need. Donate to your favorite charity, or volunteer your time to a cause you care about.
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Mindfulness isn’t about shutting up your overactive mind, but rather acknowledging your thoughts without reaction and judgment. By following these 50 examples, you’ll quickly learn how to practice mindfulness, and find stress and anxiety relief this holiday season.
In what ways have you learned how to practice mindfulness during the holidays? Comment below!