How to practice mindfulness during the holidays

local news

Odessa, TEXAS (Big 2/Fox 24) – Christmastime can be a fun with holiday cheer, decorating, and joy. It can also be very stressful with picking out the perfect gift, family stress, or other worries on our minds.  For this week’s segment of Center Solutions: COVID Edition, Kristi Edwards and Melanie Saiz explain the importance of mindfulness, and what it is. 

“We think we’re always aware of what we’re doing, but how many times have we been driving down the road and we’re thinking about things and we wind up either back home or at our kids’ school,  and we’re thinking, ‘why am I on this path?’ So mindfulness is keeping your brain focused on the task at hand,” says Center Marketing & Development Director Melanie Saiz.  

It can be overwhelming to think about the pressures or negativity that can come with the holidays. But Saiz and Edwards have some tips to practice mindfulness that you can use to combat those feelings. One way is to stop the negative thoughts when you see them coming. 

” Instead of letting that Christmas list play like a broken record in your mind, just stop and make a list. Sometimes I think people call it a ‘brain dump,’ but have something available so that you can just write it down, whether it’s, you know, when you’re at your desk, just keep it there and then put it away for later. When you have a thought, you can also record it in a voice memo, just something that allows you to put those things away so that you can focus on whatever it is you’re doing right now,” says Saiz.  

It’s helpful to let go of past thoughts, and any present moments that are negative. Another way you can be mindful is to practice awareness of what’s going on around you.

“There’s a grounding exercise that therapists use all the time. You can use it for grounding, you can use it for anxiety. It’s called the ‘5,4,3,2,1’ exercise. So what we want you to do is we want you to look around your immediate surroundings for five things you can see, we want you to look around for four things you can touch,  three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. So those bring you back to your immediate surrounding so you’re aware of everything that’s going on, ” says Centers Executive Director Kristi Edwards.

Edwards also says it’s also helpful to put your phone away to get rid of any distraction as you practice mindfulness. She also suggests a breathing exercise called “mindful breathing,” by taking at least 3 minutes out of every day, 3 times a day to sit quietly and focus on your breath.

Another tip for mindfulness is to enjoy the process of the present. Saiz suggests taking a walk outside and focusing on the sounds and sights around you, instead of listening to music or talking on the phone. Another way to follow this tip is to treat a simple task like an adventure. Enjoy a good book, have a meaningful conversation with loved ones, focus on the experience of eating a good meal without your phone or the TV to distract you. If you are shopping for holiday gifts, try to make the most of it by getting excited about the joy others will feel opening your present.

The last tip Saiz and Edwards have is to create a routine that encourages mindfulness. They say if you have a strong morning and evening routine, it can help create focus and peace for your day. You can also prepare for the next day by picking out the clothes you plan to wear the night before, or making your lunch for the next day. Before you go to bed, make your “to do” list for the next day to get it off your mind to avoid worrying about it when you go to sleep. If you want more details about how to be mindful, you can reach out to Centers or listen to their podcast.

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