Thanksgiving and Mindfulness: How to get the most from your holidays

There are 6 weeks left of 2017. These six weeks are supposed to be joyful and family-filled; however, for most of us, they are hectic and stress-filled. Some of us may feel the pressure of last-minute diets to look good in that family photo or that holiday dress. This may even be lower our self-esteem as we are upset with ourselves for not fitting the picture in our head. Others will find the stress of 5 different to-do lists weighing them down, while trying to find that perfect present, and making it to the school Holiday Pageant. Some have to balance divorced parents, in-laws, children, siblings, and friends—all pulling us in a million different directions. The Holiday season, while it should be a loving, happy time of year, can feel like running a marathon every day for six weeks.

If you identify with the above you may find the practice of mindfulness helpful as try to get through the next several weeks. The practice of mindfulness will not only help you get things done, but find the joy that this time is supposed to bring.

So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness has turned into new age jargon that we hear all the time. It’s become a catch phrase for maintaining positive mental health. There are mindfulness apps, mindfulness coloring books, mindfulness retreats, workshops, yoga studios, the list goes on and on. But what does it actually mean and where did it come from. The following video by gives a quick overview of mindfulness:

The mindfulness movement was started by Jon Kabat-Zinn who is an MIT trained molecular biologist, who later studied the art of meditation with Buddhist teachers such as, Thich Nhat Hanh and Seungsahn. In 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical school, he began an 8-week course called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction which led to much of his research on how mindfulness improves the lives of those will illness and chronic pain. He has found that through the practice of meditation patients reported significantly less depression, anxiety, fatigue, tension, and confusion.

Below is Jon Kabat-Zinn himself speaking about mindfulness and the powerfulness of our thoughts:

Now that we have an understanding of mindfulness and its uses, we can begin to build our own mindfulness techniques. Today, our mindfulness journey can be greatly enhanced by our smartphones as there is a wealth of knowledge and resources we can access through the internet. Below is a list of resources to help you on your way.

  1. As always “there’s an app for that.” Several apps have been developed to help us begin to meditate. The two most commonly used are Breethe by OMG. I Can Meditate! Inc. and Headspace. Both apps offer mini sessions for those of us on the go and a variety of meditations depending on your mood. Both apps have in-app purchases.
  2. Youtube also has several meditation videos. As you begin to know which style of meditation you like (guided, sounds, music, etc.) you can search for those videos. After a stressful day of work, I like to pick different youtube guided meditations to help me relax and fall asleep.
  3. and offer additional resources and programs to help you in your mindful journey.

Through the practice of mindfulness you will be able to engage more fully with your family and hopefully manage the stress the next 6 weeks can bring. Let me know which strategies for practicing mindfulness work (or don’t work) for you in the comments section below.

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