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“Self-care.” “Wellness.” “Mindfulness.” All of these ideas and concepts, though probably all good-intentioned, can become muddled and get confusing quickly. At Simply Psych, we believe in practical mindfulness because it cuts through the platitudes and nice words, and drives us to real, actionable moments that acknowledge and improve our mental health. We also believe that finding peace and purpose helps everyone flourish. 

Three out of five Americans feel that their mental health is negatively impacted by the holidays, making it the perfect time to build practical mindfulness into your routines. It is a season where disruptions are heightened. Breaks in the school schedule, time off from work, traveling woes, difficult family gatherings, fun holiday parties, overindulgent Thanksgiving feasts, chaotic Black Friday sales, budget-breaking gift-giving, and the list goes on and on.

The point is that disturbances in schedules and norms throw off our natural state of balance. Interruptions in homeostasis are breeding grounds for stress and anxiety. And that is why practical mindfulness is so important. It is perfectly okay (great even) to set boundaries and make a plan to minimize stressful situations. This will look different for everyone, so take time first to realize what triggers set your body into feeling anxious.

Granted, we cannot control everything. And even if we could, it would drain all the energy and life from us, leaving us wishing for anyone else to take control so we could relax. Mindfulness in action incorporates this too. 

The holiday season is not one of joy and celebration for everyone. What is meant to be a time of togetherness is a time of isolation for some. Whether it be scheduling constraints or financial barriers that keep people apart, or maybe the death or loss of a loved one, grief is common during the holidays.

It is important, then, to take time to actively grieve these moments that you won’t experience with the people you wish you could. Don’t push away your feelings; feel them, work through them, and maybe even find a therapist to help walk you through these challenging times. You may feel isolated, but you are not alone.

Mental health care and treatment is never going to be a one-size fits all endeavor. Context is everything. That is why practical mindfulness is so helpful. Proactively preparing yourself for success during the holiday season that is full of so many emotions, thoughts, memories, stressors, distractions, chaos, and joy is key. 

In summary, here are seven practical mindfulness tips that we hope will serve you and yours during the holiday season:

1) You are not your circumstance. Again, context is so important in mental health care. But that does not mean that you are defined by or viewed as your specific circumstance. You are a person. One that just happens to be in a given situation at that point in time. Separating yourself from whatever is causing you stress or anxiety will help you prepare yourself to overcome it.

2) Let go. “Resign your position as general manager of the universe.” This quote by Jeffrey Gitomer is compelling and to the point. Nobody can do all and be all. Neither can you. So relax and focus. Find your people, your holiday activities, and your list of peace-giving things. Stay fully committed to excellence, but not perfection. Control will only result in burnout, and refusing to let go will stifle your personal growth.

3) Prioritize your priority. Take a moment to pick one thing you hope to see come to pass during the holidays. And write it down. Let your “Why” be your driving force so that when the overwhelming hard times come (and they WILL come), you can feel encouraged to keep pushing and finding joy this holiday season. It can be a personal goal or a desire for the betterment of someone else. No matter what, define it and visit it often to stay motivated.

4) Sleep and Quiet. “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom,” as stated by Francis Bacon, is a truth so often impossible in our modern era of constant distractions and unlimited content. Not to mention we spend a third of our lives asleep, so make it count. Getting above the din and spending time in solitude/silence helps clear the mind, and allowing time for our minds to fully rest during sleep is vital to a healthy, ready-to-conquer-the-day attitude. If you have more free time this holiday season, spend it purposefully. Stop scrolling, let the silence speak to you, and get some quality sleep.

5) Stay active. We urge you to burn some calories at least five days a week. Working out, doing a vigorous puzzle, going out dancing with friends. Get moving and crank up that metabolism. Nobody is surprised by the fact that an active lifestyle promotes greater overall health and wellness, including mental health. Yet we so often neglect to carve out time or push ourselves to actually be active. Make it a priority, and your mind and body will thank you this holiday season.

6) Forgive yourself. You’re going to mess up. A lot. Accept that it’s part of the learning process and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Without failure, how could we grow? The key part of getting back up after failing is forgiving yourself. Without letting go of shame or regret, they’ll slowly corrode your energy and enthusiasm. Give the gift of self-love and self-care to yourself this holiday season.

7) Ask for help. You can’t do it all alone. Building a great group of loved ones around you makes all the difference in the world. Seeking the insight and perspective of others not only makes you a sharper, more rounded individual, but it also sparks greater creativity and potential as inclusivity and collaboration are critical drivers of growth and success. As the season sparks more opportunities for togetherness and celebration, let yourself be present there and ready to learn from and receive love from others. Humility is wisdom in action.

Remember, you don’t need a bigger turkey. You need yourself, happy and healthy, and loved ones around you to celebrate and enjoy the holidays with, no matter what you all celebrate. Proactive choices to help your mental health flourish this holiday season will take effort, but it does not need to be complicated. 

Simply Psych is happily here to help mental health clinicians grow and scale their ideal practice. Our goal is to see mental health integrated into our modern lifestyles, and that includes the holiday season so full of potential for personal growth and self-care. No matter where you fit into the mental health ecosystem, you are part of the bigger picture. Together we are better! Learn more at www.SimplyPsych.com. From our team to you and yours, we hope you have a fantastic holiday season! 

    Find us wherever you are.