This is officially the time of year when things get a little crazy. Around the holiday season, people are traveling more than usual, eating more than usual, working more than usual, and stressing more than usual. We are also bombarded with advertisements of all of the things we need to do and need to buy in order to make this time of year show up perfectly for everyone we need to impress. For many people, November and December snowball out of control, taking their life, their family and their joy along for the hectic ride. In the midst of all of this unnecessary hurry and consumerism, it’s so necessary and so important to allow time for mindfulness in this ultimate season of gratitude.
What is mindfulness, really? To me, it’s taking distinct time in my day to be conscious of my actions and my interactions with people. It’s a small and distinct practice of being aware of how we’re showing up in our day to day routine. It’s really easy to hop in the car, go to the store, get home and have no memory of the route we took to get there, or why we grabbed (or didn’t grab) something off the shelf to buy, or recall the conversation we had with the friend we bumped to while we were out. We’re in one place physically, but mentally we’re in a whole different space (past or future, but rarely in the present). It’s when we’re dwelling on the past, or thinking in the future that we always neglect what we have right now, and that’s one of the most important parts of being mindful.
Very few people go through life without realizing they have all of the thing they’ve asked for.
We sometimes take for granted all of the things going well in life during our constant quest to buy and consume more things to make our life “necessarily better”. When we get to the root of the holiday season, it’s about being grateful, and being in community. It’s a time to be grateful for others’ in our life, and placing them before ourselves. It’s not about how much we spend on gifts, or how perfect our home looks for guests, or how idyllic our holiday dinners are – it’s about how we show up for the people we choose to surround ourselves with, and how we treat them with our mindful actions.
Here are some of the ways I incorporate mindfulness into my day-to-day routine:
- I make a point to smile and make eye contact with people I pass by.
- 1 make a point to take a deep breath and every red light I come to, to remind myself to connect with my breath.
- I mentally check in to every place I enter and remind myself why I’m there in the first place.
- I make a point to say the name of the person I’m talking to, to connect personally with them, and make myself more present to talk and listen with them.
- I don’t purchase anything unless I genuinely feel like it will make my relationship with someone more fulfilled or more joyful. This turns consuming things out of impulse or compulsion into consuming things from a desire to enhance their life experience (which usually means I’m making something for them myself, or gifting them the experience of something special).
- I take extra time every day to practice self care. I show up better for everyone around me when when I take care of myself first and foremost.
I hope you all allow a chance during these next 2 months to turn off the consumerism noise and connect mindfully with those around you. Even it’s just once or twice a day to be present and grateful for all of the things going well, that’s some of the best soul food.
Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN | HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com