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Reduce Holiday Anxiety with These 4 Mindfulness Activities

December 5, 2019 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Holiday anxiety is a common experience. The holiday season, meant to bring peace and joy, instead can bring anxiety and misery The reasons for anxiety during the holidays are numerous and personal. Worries about money, materialism, family matters, holiday parties, loneliness, food-related concerns, alcohol use, and more can make the holidays, whether it's Hanukkah or Christmas, ho-ho-horrible. Regardless of what your holiday anxiety is like, it's real, legitimate, and can be put in its proper place: in a distant corner where it doesn't block the candles' glow. Read on for four simple, effective, mindfulness activities to reduce any holiday anxiety.

To Reduce Holiday Anxiety, Mindfulness Really Works

The heart of mindfulness is being fully immersed in your present moment. When holiday moments are stressful and full of angst, why is being present desirable? Showing up for the moments of your season is how you pull yourself out of your thoughts, emotions, and physical tensions in order to experience what is really happening.

Mindfulness is centering. When you are anchored in objective experiences, anxiety is less able to run wild with your imagination. "What-ifs" and "should haves" are replaced with "it is" and "I am." You can then focus not on racing, anxious thoughts but on where you are and what you are doing. You can serenely enjoy your holiday decorations at home without them sparking a cascade of anxious, negative thoughts. You can go to that holiday party even if you have social anxiety or are unsettled about an argument you had with someone there because you can be fully present and intentionally choose your actions and responses.

Despite how anxiety makes it seem, mindfulness is our natural state of being. If anxiety is what comes naturally right now, that's okay. It's a matter of learning to be mindful so you can live fully. It takes patience and practice, but you can begin immediately and reap the benefits during your holidays. The following four mindfulness activities are simple exercises that allow you to feel your holiday spirit. 

4 Mindfulness Activities to Reduce Your Holiday Anxiety

Being mindful is more than just what you do, it's also how you do it. Mindfulness is action that puts you in charge of your direction (and sitting in stillness is a type of action). How you live is just as important as what you're doing. Do each of these activities often and fully, with all of your senses, body, and mind.

  1. Sip and savor a hot drink. Pick what pleases you, whether it's hot chocolate, tea, or coffee (be aware, though, that for some people, caffeine can worsen anxiety). Rather than gulping it on the go, sit comfortably and enjoy it. Inhale the scent. Feel the warmth on your hands and as you swallow. Taste. Be present. Replace anxious thoughts with pleasant sensory input for a quiet mind.
  2. Create a mindful bedtime ritual. Holiday festivities can throw off regular sleep schedules, but sleep is essential to keeping anxiety at bay. Make and follow a calming routine to encourage quality sleep. Perhaps meditate in candlelight or near the tree lights. Write in a gratitude journal, reflecting on holiday-related positives. 
  3. Do at least one good deed daily, and be fully present for it. Doing something nice, big or small (like leaving a note on a windshield or in a mailbox) increases our sense of connection to others which helps reduce existential anxiety
  4. Be joyful. Purposefully work moments of fun, laughter, and smiles into your day. Holidays can be stressful, and anxiety is a heavy burden. Make light of your experiences this season to break free from anxiety.                 

Reduce your holiday anxiety with mindfulness activities. Mindfulness takes you not to holidays past or holidays future but to holiday present. The gift mindfulness gives is a joyful time of experiencing your life rather than stuck inside your head living anxious scenarios.

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, December 5). Reduce Holiday Anxiety with These 4 Mindfulness Activities, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, January 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2019/12/reduce-holiday-anxiety-with-these-4-mindfulness-activities



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She also speaks nationally about mental health. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Lizanne Corbit
December, 9 2019 at 10:17 pm
I love that all four of these are things we can so easily bring into our daily routine, even at busy holiday time. I will say there is something so delicious and soothing about truly taking a moment to savour a hot beverage. Close your eyes, wrap both hands around the mug, breath in the scent, feel the steam -- all of it. It really does give you such a moment (or moments) of peace and joy. I love that moment when you close your eyes, breath deeply, take a sip, and then smile. Joy!

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