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  • 4 Tips to Prepare for the Holidays

    Are you already stressing about the holidays? You’re not alone. Many find that the holidays bring as much stress as they do joy. But there are ways to ease through the season. Using mindfulness, you can work on paying attention to the things that really matter!

    What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is bringing your attention to the present moment while trying to embrace nonjudgmentalness and acceptance. It is noticing when we get caught up in thoughts about the past or the future, and returning our attention to the present — the only reality.

    Mindfulness can encompass many different kinds of practice, but for our purposes we will be focusing on stress-reduction.

    1. Accept Imperfection

    Can good be good enough? Try not to look at posts on Pinterest or Instagram as what you should expect for yourself – people who make their living through decorating or curating are posting those pictures and set unrealistic standards.

    Before you start preparing, acknowledge that things may not go exactly as planned. Imperfection is healthy and normal. For some of us, it might just take a little practice to accept.

    2. Focus on What Really Matters

    With long lines and crazy traffic, the holidays can get hectic. When overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, ask yourself:

    Can I allow this moment to just be a moment, rather than let it impact my whole day? If you’re frustrated by the long grocery line you’re standing in, remember that it is just a long grocery line — nothing more. It doesn’t have to ruin the rest of your day.

    Can I use this moment of frustration as a time to pause or even be pleasant? If you’re waiting in a long line, rather than hanging out on your phone, look around you and try to be fully present instead. People-watch, count colors, talk to the person behind you, look for gratitude.

    3. Respond with Kindness

    The only real control we have is how we behave and respond to others – you can’t change how others act during the stresses of the holiday season.

    Look for reasons to empathize or understand why the other person is acting the way they are. This does not mean allowing bad behavior to continue, but look to understand first.

    Keep in mind that the holidays are especially difficult for those who are alone. See if you can extend an act of kindness to those you know are without family and friends during this time of year.

    If things do get tense with someone, take a few deep breaths before you respond. You might even consider walking away and letting the person know you need a few minutes!

    4. Rethink Your Resolutions

    If you’re going to set New Years Resolutions, there are helpful and harmfun ways to do it. Follow these tips to set resolutions that will stick:

    • Start small. Break your goal into tinier steps over the course of the year.
    • Be kind to yourself. Set goals that are realistic and sustainable. “Lose weight” is not sustainable, “Learn to listen to body cues” is! We create new habits to support a life that feels great.

    The holidays are as stressful as we allow them to be. The “shoulds” that pop up during this time can be very harmful: “I should spend more time with family”, “I should spend more money on gifts”, “They should have known what I expected”. Notice what communication and boundaries can be clearer for a happier and less stressful holiday season! And remember – you don’t have to do any of these suggestions if they’re not right for you.