Experiencing holiday stress? Practice mindfulness | TheUnion.com

Experiencing holiday stress? Practice mindfulness

Valerie Costa
Special to The Union

It's the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful time, as well. Instead of making yourself crazy this holiday season, try some of these tips to ensure that your yuletide is full of joy instead of stress.

Practice gratitude: Take time to reflect on the previous year and feel gratitude for the many great things that have come your way, as well as the difficult times that have brought new lessons which helped to make you stronger. Gratitude is a wonderful stress reliever, and has been scientifically proven to improve physical and psychological health, increase mental strength, improve sleep, and reduce aggression. With practice, you can find something to be grateful for every day.

Spread some love: Instead of dreading that visit with Uncle Hal or trying to make the house perfect for mom's visit, focus on this time as an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, and do something to make your loved ones feel cherished. If you know someone who is struggling with loneliness during the holidays, why not invite them to dinner or bring them a homemade gift. Or just offer to go on a walk or have a chat. One small act of humankindness can have ripples beyond our imagining, and doing for others makes us feel better about ourselves.

Forgive yourself: It's nearly impossible to make it through this time of year without a little overindulgence. When that inevitably happens, focus on how stuffing yourself with cookies and eggnog made you feel, both physically and emotionally, and try to save those times for special occasions. If you remember the stomachache from last week, it is a bit easier to refuse that second (or fourth) piece of pie.

Remember the Reason for the Season: Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Yule, Kwanza, or any other religious holiday, or if you just appreciate the traditions of the season, take time to reflect upon what this time of year means to you, and how you can spread that joy to others.

No matter how you celebrate this time of year, hopefully these tips will help to make your days merry and bright.

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