Simple tips to be present and truly enjoy the holidays
The holidays can be both a joyful and a stressful time. We often rush right through the month of December going to parties, work events, family gatherings, and more. Before we know it, it’s the beginning of a new year. This year, take time to slow down, live in the moment and really enjoy the holidays.
This intentional act of being present has many health benefits, including increased happiness, feeling calm and being more relaxed. Here are some tips to help you stay present this month.
Put down your phone. Phones can be a great way to access information and stay connected, but they can also be a big distraction. Research shows that too much time using social media can actually be harmful to our mental health. When we’re distracted by what’s on our phone, we’re paying less attention to the people around us. If you’re at a party or family gathering, try putting your phone away, and encourage others to do the same.
Keep important routines. It can be easy to get out of our daily routines during the holidays, but it’s important to continue those that help lower your stress and maintain your health. Determine which routines are important for you to feel your best, and make those non-negotiables. Whether it’s being physically active, spending time alone, eating (mostly) healthy meals or something completely different, keeping these routines can help you feel energized throughout the month.
Have a conversation and really listen. Sit down with a family member or friend and spend time having a meaningful conversation. Often when speaking to someone, we’re forming our response while they’re still talking. Instead, take the time to really listen and reflect back what they’re saying. You’ll be less distracted if you’re completely focused on the conversation; plus, it’s a good way to build connections.
Listen to your body. Practice self-compassion during the holidays by tuning in to what your body needs. Do you feel exhausted after a weekend of family gatherings? Take some time to rest. Starting to feel a little stressed out? Try going for a walk. Taking care of yourself first allows you to be there fully for others. Finally, remember that is it okay to say no to things that don’t support your health and well-being.
Go with the flow. A lot of stress during the holidays comes from feeling like there is a gap between expectations and reality. Instead of worrying about things not going according to plan, remember what is most important. If you find yourself feeling stressed in the moment, try naming what you’re grateful for to help bring you back to the present. Letting go of the need for everything to be perfect allows us to enjoy the present moment rather than feeling anxious.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness doesn’t have to include yoga or meditation, although it certainly can. Something as simple as focusing on your breath can bring you back to the present. One easy way is to take five long, slow, deep breaths. Inhale and focus on the air entering your lungs. Feel your chest expand. Exhale fully and focus solely on the air leaving your body. Repeat five times. If you’re interested in more meditation, you can try out apps like Headspace and Calm.
About the Author
Sarah Sommer is the wellness coordinator at the Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center in Bloomington, IL. She completed her MPH at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana with a concentration in health behavior and promotion. Sarah enjoys helping people define what health and wellness means to them and supporting them during their journey.