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Mindfulness Goes Beyond Meditation: Holiday Edition

It’s a time when traditionally we’re all running around like crazy, trying to fend off the weather, get our normal tasks/jobs done, be everything for everyone we love, AND add in the element of entertaining, gift-giving, and more that the holidays bring on.

It’s a lot. All the while, we’re supposed to be the happiest we’ve been all year, filled with holiday cheer. And of course not stressed about finances, time to ourselves, our health (hello sugary and fatty foods everywhere), and time to refresh is basically out of the question.

We get so wrapped up in the do, do, do, that we often go without even noticing if we’re breathing.

So, this year, I propose something different for all of us. How about we make sure we’re tending to ourselves, being honest with our own needs, and THEN focusing on everything else. Permission granted. Please take a deep breath.

With this, I’d like to offer that it doesn’t mean we have to devote hours on end, every single day, to meditating, going to yoga, taking a bath, etc. Some days we should do these things, but don’t let them overwhelm you. What I’m suggesting is that you take small moments throughout every day to be mindful and recenter.

Here are my top 3 tips to keeping healthy and happy this holiday season:

  1. Be mindful of your breathing: it’s very common for us to hold our breath or breathe shallow. This is bad for our circulation, our autonomic nervous system, our digestive system, and our brain will lack the oxygen it needs to function well. The next time you get an email you don’t like, get overwhelmed by your to-do list, or have an unfavorable encounter- check your breath. Just observe what you’re doing. Are you holding it? Are you breathing shallow? Just observe. Once you know how you react, you can do something about it. In moments like these, do the 5-5-7 breath. Breathe in your nose for 5 seconds filling your lungs, hold for 5 seconds (not all the way at the top, but almost), then breathe out your mouth for 7 seconds expelling all of your air, and repeat this cycle for 10 times. You’ll be shocked how much more refreshed your entire body, and mind, feels afterwards.

  1. Be mindful of your eating: It’s easy during the holidays to eat anything that’s in front of you that looks tasty. And then we reach the end of December and make a resolution to eat better and work out more. Eye roll. Show your body you’re committed to its health always, and don’t send it on this neglect/numb and then pay attention rollercoaster. It’s not good for your psyche, your self-worth, or your confidence levels in

your ability to have self-control. I’m not talking about being crazy strict and not eating ANYTHING festive. Not at all. I’m talking about moderation and not stressing about it. So, when something tasty is in front of you, I only ask you to be kind enough to yourself to be mindful. Just take a few seconds to think…am I hungry, do I really want this because I want the food that it is, or am I numbing or pleasing someone by eating it? Do I want just one of this yummy treat for a taste/comfort, or do I want multiple bites? Do I want any at all? Just being mindful is enough here. Knowing, truly, what you want to give your body in that moment is enough. No guilt, just observation. And whatever you decide to have, be sure you’re chewing well (helps your digestion immensely), breathing in a relaxed state, and present. And if it’s something you don’t want, a simple, “no thank you” does just fine to the person offering it up.

  1. Be mindful of your limits: When your head is spinning and you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s a sign you’ve gone too far. There was also a sign before you got to this point. Take a moment to think back to when that hint came, and be mindful of what you can do in the future to take a little break at THAT point, instead of at the point that you are totally burnt out and probably a regular crabby-pants/grinch to everyone in your path. Fake nice with a holiday sheen is totally transparent, and you aren’t going to help anyone be in the holiday spirit all frazzled and “hiding it”. We see you. So, take care of yourself and take mini-breaks when you need them to do things that fill YOU up. Fifteen minutes to a couple hours here and there to breathe, meditate, take a bath, read a book, literally just lay down and close your eyes to think, anything, is way better than a meltdown after you’ve checked off all the to-do boxes. The '“things” will wait. And your friends, family and co-workers will be happier if you’re a whole person versus a shell of a human who is slowly (or quickly) morphing into a grinch.

Above all this holiday season, please be mindful. First of yourself and your wellbeing, and then of how you’re interacting with both people you love and strangers. If you’re stressed about anything related to the ‘commercial’ side of the holidays, just stop it. Not worth it, move on to more important values. I get it that some of you have kids and don’t want to disappoint them in the gift arena, or the decorations, etc etc, but keep in mind that what you place value on yourself, and what you stress about during the holidays, will translate to their adult lives. What if you taught them that a calm, loving holiday is more valuable than gifts? Spending time together and having time to be mindful and reflect on the blessings we all already have is the greatest gift of them all.

Wishing you all the most mindful holiday season yet ❤️I hope these tips help you navigate this time of year with confidence!

Katie Dougherty is a dual certified holistic wellness coach, whom specializes in helping high performing, career centered women find balance. She does so by focusing on decreasing her client’s stress levels and increasing their energy and productivity. Katie’s holistic approach to wellness is met with a no-bs transformational coaching method, where client’s co-create a life that’s sustainable, vibrant and purpose driven. The tenants of Katie’s philosophy include; intuitive eating with a bio-diverse approach to nutrition that maximizes energy instead of depleting it, mindfulness practices that ground and calm, and movement to clear stagnant energy. Focusing on a client’s lifestyle habits, and doing deep transformational work to help them obtain their dream life, is where Katie’s work thrives and where she sees her clients truly transform. Check out her website HERE for more details.

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