Health Advocate Blog

Mastering mindfulness this holiday season

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and excitement, but for many people, it is also a season of overwhelming busy-ness. From family gatherings and gift buying to decorating and a flurry of other seasonal activities, you may end up feeling less than jolly.

However, it is possible to refocus and recapture the holiday spirit with mindfulness. Mindfulness, which is about staying grounded, aware and focused on the moment, can keep you from feeling overwhelmed, helping you reconnect with the joys that this season can bring. Put another way, mindfulness can help you become more resilient by developing inner resources to meet the stressors in life.

Sitting and meditating or focusing on slow, deep breathing are two easy ways to get on the road toward mindfulness. Try one of these other simple ways to be mindful during this busy time of year:

Tune in to what matters. Mindfulness is not just about living life more fully, but gaining more insight about how you want to live your life. This goes for holidays, too. Focus on what part gives you meaning and/or makes you happy and give up what makes you stressed.

Scratch multitasking off your list. Focusing on doing one thing fully at a time can help loosen the grip of anxious thoughts and help you feel more balanced. For practice, take an orange and peel it very slowly. Feel the pebbly surface, smell the pungent fragrance, and taste the tangy juiciness. Bring your full attention to whatever you are doing, whether stringing lights or sitting in a year-end meeting.

Step outside. A walk in the fresh air, feeling your feet firmly strike the ground can bring you back to the calmness of the moment, silencing anxious thoughts such as how you’re going to get everything done. While outdoors, learn a classic mindfulness technique: look up at the clouds. Whenever worrisome or negative thoughts intrude, don’t judge them. Let them arise and float by like passing clouds.

Tap into the small moments of joy. It may not come from hosting the perfect holiday spread or finding the exact right gift. Just seeing the winter moon shining through the trees or your dog romping through the first snowfall can bring heartfelt delight once you become aware of experiencing the moment.

Learn to say, “hmmm, that’s interesting.”  Things not going exactly as planned? Are there heated discussions at a family get-together? Instead of reacting and letting anxiety or anger take over, learn to just observe what you’re feeling, and “greet your emotions with kindness.” This will help you reconnect more with yourself, and by so doing, may help you experience more interconnectedness with others.

Interested in mindfulness and need some guidance? There are many meditation apps, audiobooks, and programs available. A good place to start is to check out the resources on

If you find that you can’t shake the holiday blues, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider for help.