As much as the holidays bring families and friends together, they can also bring an excess amount of stress. In fact, the American Psychological Association found that 38% of people say their stress increases during the holidays—and even more shockingly, only 8% of people say they feel happier.
While you may not be able to totally eliminate the sources of your holiday stress, you can manage it—with mindfulness. In fact, a review of over 200 studies found that mindfulness-based therapy was especially impactful at reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
So if you want to have a holly, jolly holiday without cursing the strand of tree lights that still won’t light, turn to these mindfulness tips.
Meditation comes with a long list of benefits, like stress reduction, anxiety management, improved mood, and improved sleep. Even better, meditation is an easy habit to add to your daily routine. There’s no equipment required, and you can start with only a minute before working up to longer intervals.
In stressful moments, try a guided meditation from apps like Calm, Headspace, or Insight Timer. These apps often let you filter by how much time you have and what emotions you’re feeling, so you’re able to get meditations for your specific situation.
Feeling gratitude doesn’t have to end after Thanksgiving dinner is over. In fact, research shows that regularly practicing gratitude can lead to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. Plus, if you focus on positive emotions (like gratitude), you have less space for negative emotions, like stress or worry.
Each day, try to list one to three things that you’re grateful for. Don’t worry about writing long explanations of why you’re grateful for that particular thing. You can keep it as short as “coffee, my health, and my friend Erica who always chooses the best restaurants for dinner.” As you’re writing, take a few moments to reflect on why you’re grateful for these things.
We’ve talked about the benefits of nature before, but just to recap: being in nature improves your mood, reduces your stress, and benefits your physical health. Even if it’s chilly outside, being in nature is a quick antidote to whatever holiday stress you’re feeling.
As you take your nature walk, make a point of disconnecting from tech (put your phone on Airplane mode) and focusing instead on your surroundings. Cycle through your senses, noticing what you see, hear, feel, touch, and smell. Or, play a mindfulness game: search for something in your surroundings that starts with the letter A, then work your way through the alphabet.
Have you ever sat down to eat your dinner, only to look up ten minutes later and realize you have no memory of chewing anything? It’s time to change that habit. Mindful eating might help you improve your digestion, only eat when you’re hungry, allow food cravings to pass, and more.
To practice mindful eating, put your tech away and eat sitting down at your table. Pick up your utensils and put them down in between each bite, taking the time to notice texture, taste, temperature, and more.
The holidays may be a source of stress. However, with the right mindfulness approach, you’ll be able to find the fun and festive spirit of the season.