The holidays are a time for celebration and gratitude. Too often, however, they’re the cause of stress and anxiety. For many, juggling the holiday tasks of shopping, decorating, cooking and social obligations can lead to feeling downright overwhelmed. However, before you’re tempted to call off the holidays altogether, you may want to try a 5,000-year-old practice that can help you get through the season and beyond. It’s mindfulness, and the power of simply being in the present moment, even for a brief period of time, can be restorative and beneficial for the body, mind and spirit.
“The everyday pressures of family and work can become even greater during the holidays,” says Dr. Lisa Langer, clinical assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. “The ability to be present in the moment is not only a gift to others, but also to ourselves.”
Mindfulness can be as simple as just taking a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on breathing. This simple activity enables us to reconnect with the right here, right now and to gain clarity and focus. This is a particularly helpful tool to use when feeling overwhelmed and anxious. There are even easy-to-use apps, like Insight Timer and Calm that can help you incorporate greater mindfulness into your day-to-day life.
Make Time for Moments for Yourself and Others
Through mindfulness, many experience greater clarity of what is truly important during the holidays. And, what’s important might not be battling it out in the mall to get the latest gadget or toy. You may find that carving out quality time for family, travel or just reading a book is more important than getting the latest and greatest gift or attending a holiday party. It can be beneficial to write down your holiday intentions or share them with a friend or family member. This can help you stay on track and avoid feelings of guilt. And yes, you may need to decline an invite or say no to a family member or friend to set your limits.
“In this hyper-connected age, media can also be a big contributor to stress, especially during the holidays,” says Dr. Langer. “It can be helpful to limit time on social media and 24/7 news channels which can both increase stress and anxiety. Taking a break can help you refocus on being present for yourself and others.”
Finally, many who begin to incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives also discover the benefits of being grateful for what they have. It’s not always about having the most decorated house on the block or buying that expensive gift. Rather, it’s about being in the present moment and recognizing all that there is to be grateful for. At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re grateful for the opportunity to be your healthcare provider.
The Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about stress and anxiety, mindfulness and other integrative health services. For more information, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.