I’m fairly sure that when the three wise men came from the East to pay homage to baby Jesus and present Him with gifts, they had no idea what they were starting. Now, more than two thousand years later, we have transformed the giving of gifts into an industry and the celebration of the season into a merchandising opportunity that lasts for months, not days. So how can you find your way out of the chaos and into a state of peace and reflection worthy of the reason for the season? Remember peace begins with you. When you practice being mindful and present you can avoid getting caught up in the hustle and bustle and stay connected to what matters to you.
Pause for the cause. Find a quiet place, sit down and close your eyes. It just takes five minutes. Now, clear your mind of thoughts, listen to the sound of your breathing and relax. Congratulations! You are practicing meditation. You can listen to music on headphones or to the sound of nature around you. For just five minutes, focus inward and wait for the peace that is within you.
Press the “pause” button. When you notice your holiday stress level rising, imagine you are pressing an imaginary “pause” button and create a space between you and your stress. Think about what is making you feel anxious and make a conscious decision to control your response to it.
Take a hike. A breath of fresh air can be the break you need from any stressful situation – even better if you can find that fresh air in nature. Walking in nature has been shown to help us feel happier and more relaxed. Find your favorite spot and walk your holiday stress away.
Take a deep breath. Deep breathing works by triggering our para-sympathetic nervous system and eliciting a sense of calm. One simple exercise you can do is to inhale for six long, slow counts, and exhale for the same. Try increasing the count by one each time you take a breath. Continue until you feel the stress subside.
Give thanks. In any given moment, there is always something to be grateful for, whether it’s your health, your family, your faith. Research has shown that the act of practicing gratitude can increase your sense of well-being and satisfaction with your life. Keep a gratitude journal with you and write down something you’re grateful for every day.
These simple, common-sense actions can help you be mindful and find peace in any time, any place. The more you practice them the better you will get at it. So when the pressures of the holidays start mounting, remember that the peace you seek is already within you.