By: Petra Najafee, Registered Psychotherapist

The holidays can be so much fun!(And so stressful!)…We meet up with old friends (and suddenly we’re feeling really old), we go to parties (and sometimes we’re thinking “Why am I here? I don’t even like most of these people. I should be doing x, y, and z”), we give gifts to special people (and then we stress about how much we spent and whether we can really afford all this), we spend time with our families (we love them but let’s face it, sometimes they can drive us bonkers!). On top of that we bake, we wrap, we completely disrupt our routine, we eat foods that are bad for us, we stay up late and for a solid month or so we are go, go, go and we just don’t stop. Well folks, it’s time to stop. Slow down. Take a few moments for yourself to regroup and just be. Come on, you can do it. Take just 10 minutes to remove yourself from the thought stream that creates so much stress. It might be just what you need to be able to go back in and enjoy the time you have with your family and friends.

Here are a couple of simple mindfulness practices you can do to help you take a time out.

The Mindful Shower (You’re going to shower anyway, right?):

When you’re in the shower, try to concentrate on the sensations of showering. Pay attention to the feeling as the drops of water touch your skin. Notice the temperature of the water. Be aware of the sound of the water as it drips down over your hair and ears, as it hits the shower floor. When your mind wanders off to the events of the day and what needs to get done (as it will inevitably do), gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the shower. Focus on the feeling of shampoo as you lather it into your hair. Notice the scent of the soap. And when your mind wanders off again, gently bring it back to the sensations of the shower. At the end of the shower, notice how you feel. What was it like to be out of the thought stream for just a few moments of your day?

Taking out the Garbage Mindfully (this one has the added bonus of looking selfless)

Offer to take out the garbage. Make sure you put on your coat and boots because you’re going to be out there for a few minutes. Once you’ve disposed of the trash, take a few steps away from the bin and take a few moments to notice what’s around you. Notice the temperature of the air as you breathe it in. Feel the breeze as it brushes against your cheeks. When your mind starts to wander off to everything else that’s been going on during the week, gently remind yourself to step out of the thought stream and come back to paying attention to what’s happening in the moment. Notice the sound of the bird in the tree, or the traffic going by, or even the siren in the distance. But try not to judge it, just notice it and let it pass. Focus on the feeling of the soles of your feet planted firmly on the ground. Be aware of the texture and temperature of the snowflake that is gently falling on your nose. Continue this for a few moments. And before you go back in, notice how you feel. What was it like to step out of the thought stream for just a few moments of your day?

If you enjoy those practices, imagine what it would be like to incorporate more mindfulness into your daily life. New Year’s resolution anyone?

Wishing you a very happy holiday and a peaceful new year.

openness. nourishment. empowerment.