The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? A Seasonal Mindfulness

seasonal mindfulnessThe holidays can be both wonderful and painful.  They can remind us to connect with loved ones, but they can also be reminders of connections that we don’t have.

Depending on your circumstances, you might feel frazzled by extra activities and events or lonely and left out of the holiday hustle and bustle.  It can be a time of reflecting back on happy childhood memories or a time of painful reminders of the past.

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4 Steps to Decrease Emotional Vulnerability at the Holidays

emotional vulnerability at the holidaysThe holidays are a time of goodwill and cheer, but for many, they are also anniversaries of painful life events or trauma.  In advertisements we see happy people sharing good times, but when you’re not surrounded by loved ones, the holidays can be acute reminders of loneliness, disappointment, conflict and loss.

All of this can make the season a time when you are more likely to experience intense emotions.  If you don’t anticipate problems, intense emotion can send you off track and leave you escaping in unhealthy and problematic ways.

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Creating a Soothing Holiday Home

How do you make your home a more soothing, calming, environment this holiday season?  How can you provide opportunities for you and your family to Self soothe?  Ask yourself the following questions:

VISION:  what is pretty and calming to look at around your house?  Are there any decorations that you like to look at that make you feel particularly calm and secure? 

TASTE:  what are soothing tastes and flavors available in the house?  Are there any flavors or tastes that you associate with the holidays, like peppermint, hot chocolate or apple cider? 

TOUCH:  what soothing and calming things are available for to touch in the house?  Are there warm cozy blankets?  A warm fire? Soft clothes? 

HEARING:  what calming, soothing holiday sounds do you have around the house?  How did you provide a calming holiday environment with sound? Do you play holiday music? Focus on conversation? Have a crackling fire?

SMELL:  what smells like the holidays to you, around your house?

Positive Thoughts for the Holidays

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Within our mind we experience a ceaseless flow of thoughts. Ordinarily our attention wanders a lot, we are lost in our thoughts and only superficially aware of what is taking place within or around us. With mindful observation of our experience, we grow more sensitive to what we are perceiving, feeling, thinking, and doing. Try to practice controlling your attention by bringing your thoughts to a pleasant past experience. Thanksgiving and the holidays often bring a wide variety of emotions. To start the season on a hopeful note, you may choose to focus on a positive Thanksgiving or holiday experience.

Take a moment and remember a time when you felt hopeful, bright, cheerful, content or confident.  You can choose any experience, but focus on one in which you felt a pleasant emotion.  As you are remembering the experience, notice what made you feel these good feelings, remember how your body felt, were you flushed, did you have a warm feeling, were your muscles relaxed or tense, and remember how you expressed your positive feeling.  What did you do with your positive energy.

If you find you are distracted by other thoughts, feelings or memories that come up, simply bring your mind back to your breathing and then refocus on your positive memory.  Trust in this moment and allow it to unfold without  analyzing, judging or doubting it.