Feeling stressed? Five reasons to practice mindfulness this festive season

Feeling stressed? Five reasons to practice mindfulness this festive season

Don't let the festive season blues get you down this December holiday period.  

Woman with Christmas hat

Tis the season to be jolly? Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for some people it can be the most depressing. 

While we all long for a break from school and work, the truth is that the upcoming holidays can be one of the most emotionally stressful times for many people. 

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) says that they experience an influx of calls related to depression and suicide around this time of the year, as well as the highest rate of suicide per month. 

It’s no wonder – with all that forced joviality, plus opportunities to drink excessively, as well as the fact that you may be spending time with family members who you may not see the rest of the year. Family dynamics are complex and difficult for many. 

Of course, there’s also the financial stress caused by this expensive time of year, and all of these stressors certainly add up.

ALSO READ: Seven safety tips for your long road trip this holiday

So, how do you keep the stress at bay this holiday season? A good way to start is to practise some mindfulness exercises. This is a good opportunity to start, seeing as you may have a bit more spare time than you do during your usual daily routine. Fedhealth has shared some reasons why mindfulness can help ease stress: 

1. It keeps you in the now

It can be difficult to unwind after the rush of organising all those end of year festivities – from teachers’ gifts, to work functions, to reindeer outfits. But now is the time to put that all behind you and focus on the present. Whether it’s simply staring at the marine life in a rock pool with your children, feeling the sun on your skin, or lying on a towel staring up at the sky – mindfulness can teach you how to focus on the present moment, so that you can get the most benefit out of your holiday.

2. It helps you destress

Your mind needs to unclamp from its position of overthinking and stress – and research shows that a mindfulness practice reduces activity in the part of your brain called the amygdala, which is mainly responsible for flicking on the stress response switch. Just 5-10 minutes per day of mindfulness during your holiday can help do this. Regular practice also makes you more sensitive to the needs of your own body, which in turn makes you more aware of other people’s needs and emotions.

3. It gives you some alone time

Holidays are busy times, where you may be constantly surrounded by friends and family. For people who tend to be more introverted, this can be incredibly draining. If you need to schedule some time away from the noise and company, even a few minutes of mindfulness can help you recharge your energy. Get your partner or family to watch the kids on the beach or in the garden, and then draw the curtains, sit somewhere comfortably and focus on your breathing, as you unwind and recharge.

4. It can help with overindulgence

Eating and drinking mindfully is one way to not consume excessively. After each celebratory drink or meal, stop and see how you feel. Are you actually full and satsfied? Are you just going for that extra turkey leg because it tastes good? Try and savour each mouthful, chewing properly and tasting each flavour. If you do this, you’ll return from holidays feeling energised, rather than sluggish.

5. It ramps up your gratitude

If you have loved ones around you, beautiful sights to see, food on the table and a comfortable and safe place to be spending your holiday – you are indeed blessed. Mindfulness can make you experience this gratitude more keenly, as can jotting down a few things each day that you’re grateful for. It can be as simple as writing: “I’m grateful I have the health to swim in the ocean and the means to take time off from my job.”

If you’ve never considered trying mindfulness, these 3-4 weeks out of your routine may be the best time to start. As you can see, the benefits are boundless – so download an app or find a mindfulness meditation online and get started!

ALSO READ: Activities to keep your young ones entertained during the holiday season

Main image courtesy of iStock/AaronAmat

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