Using Mindfulness to Reduce Holiday Stress

The holidays have arrived… Cue the anxiety about family visiting, the stress that comes with preparation to make just about everything perfect, the overwhelming emotions of hosting large or intimate family and friends,  the pressure of staying on a “diet”, the financial stress of purchasing all things shiny,  and just overall stress of anything else you can think of. The holidays can be difficult for just about anyone. Here are some tips to help lower stress and stay present throughout the chaos.

Ways to make this Holiday Season Different:

Shift Your Mindset

It all starts with our mindset. Shifting our mindset can alter our perception and approach to the inevitable stress that accompanies family or friend gatherings. Our mindset,  attitude,  and openness can greatly impact the quality of the upcoming holiday.

Hold On to a Mantra

Start by adopting a Mantra or phrase that will refocus your attention to the “main priority” of the holiday season rather than getting lost in the small details. By adopting a mantra specific to you it’ll help remind you to elicit or dictate the type of emotions you want to associate with this holiday season. Mantras you use can be kind words from others,  song lyrics that align with your message,  scriptures that you find in religious texts,  excerpts from books,  or a message you create yourself such as a single word or a simple phrase that you use regularly to refocus and recenter. Your priority is to magnify the good and reiterate the meaning and intention of the holiday season (even if we burn the holiday ham).

 Slow Down with Gratitude

Another great step is to remember to pause and practice gratitude in the mayhem that is the “holiday”. By slowing down, we allow ourselves the opportunity to take a step back and respond to feeling overwhelmed rather than react.  This helps to eliminate poor interactions and decreases negative self talk. Things will go wrong,  schedules will get backed up and engagements will run longer than expected. Expect it and allow space for it. Leave time for being a human being and not just a “human doing”. In those moments of pausing,  remind yourself of the power of gratitude. Looking for the good in ourselves and others often attract good feelings.

Practice Non-Judgment

And lastly,  let go of judgement and the idea of perfectionism.  By removing this expectation we provide a space of authenticity and realistic attainable goals. One of the keys to allowing things to be perfectly imperfect is approaching each holiday stressor with an attitude of non-judgement towards ourselves and others. Once we start to put blame on others we open the door to critiquing our best efforts and ultimately building resentment and bringing additional stress and suffering.

Prioritize your intentions this holiday season and avoid burnout by implementing some of these tips into the next few hectic weeks. And if all else fails,  remember that this too shall pass.

Want to learn more about Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and how to implement these evidence-based techniques into your daily life? Sign up for our 6 Week MBSR Course starting on January 13th. Info at registration at 

Amanda N. Karam, LMHC, FNS, MBSR

Nourish Your Mind – Integrative Mental Health

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