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Stress Less: Presence Over Presents

As we go through the holidays, it's always a good time to take a look at your presence, rather than presents! Has mindfulness been on the forefront of your brain? Or has stress consumed more of your time than you like to admit?

Mindfulness Matters

We’re all aware of how awfully much stress can negatively affect our physical well-being, mental health, mood at work, ability to unwind at home, and so much more. It controls a lot of our life, while we seemingly can’t control it! One strategy we consistently revisit is practicing mindfulness. Especially during the holidays, mindfulness can turn the worst days into something better. Holiday food is often a source of stress, so let’s look at how being mindful can play a part in stress management.

Did you know, stress can trigger higher levels of cortisol? High levels of cortisol (often referred to as your stress hormone) can increase your appetite. Increased appetite, combined with an environment saturated with high fat and high sugar-filled foods, can lead to holiday weight gain! We are here to help you combat food-related stress.

These are some tips to bring mindfulness to the forefront of your holiday experience:

  • Pause before you eat to recognize if you are filling an emotional or physical hunger. Eating smart (plus moving more, sleeping enough, and managing your time) can significantly improve your attitude AND your health! See our Holiday Stress Meditation for extra fun. Focuses include:

    • Making time for yourself – put it ON your calendar.

    • Practice mindfulness and meditation.

    • Say no to invitations that don’t serve your mental health in a positive way.

    • Simplify life.

    • Keep the holiday spirit high by showing kindness and compassion for self and others!

  • Try fasting for 12-18 hours on a regular basis–that can be daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonally. A fast can give your gut a much needed “rest and reset”-- which we all need sometimes!

  • Drink more water! It should go without saying, but read those benefits here.

  • Focus on ADDING healthy foods to your meals rather than restriction. Munch on lighter options such as fruits or vegetables before your main course. These foods can increase dopamine, but also have filling fiber and are light on sugar! Plus, you are doing your body a favor. If your tank is already half full by the time dinner starts, you are less likely to overeat and feel lethargic after!

  • Above all, spend time on reflection AND celebration! Whether it applies to nutrition or to your physical, occupational, or any other dimension of well-being, dedicate some of your energy to writing in a journal and celebrating your wins this year. Here are some starter prompts:

    • What have I done this year to improve my health? What can I plan to do next year?

    • Keep a gratitude section to share with your family during the holidays. Build on it by adding at least one gratitude a day!

All of these actions create opportunities for you to stop, pause, and take a moment to be mindful. Taking time to focus on yourself during the holiday craze might just turn your next party into a stress-less time, prioritizing making memories and presence over presents.