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Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

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Opening Presence This Holiday Season: Five Ways to Stay Mindful

December 3, 2012 3 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

{image via pinterest

Of all the gifts my husband I could give each other this holiday season, we agreed that putting away our cell phones might be the most valuable one.

Let me tell you, one constantly connected, slightly workaholic to another (oh, is that not you also?), putting that thing away is tough stuff! But I made a commitment to no cell phones at meals about a month ago, determined to break the habit by the holiday. And while I find myself biting my lip at times wanting to google a random question I just thought of about Israel and Hamas or Christina Aguilera’s hair, or wanting to reply to just one more email, it’s getting easier.

The holidays can be one of the most difficult times to practice being more present, our attention being pulled in a thousand different directions. From Thanksgiving menus to Black Friday deals to work holiday parties to cookie competitions to festivals to wrapping to travel, we often come as unraveled as the ribbon in the bottom of our gift wrapping supply box.

We end up moving from one event to the next with a holiday smile plastered on our face, belying the overwhelm we feel underneath. And in the midst of the madness, we lose sight of the true joy and peace that the season can bring. 

In the spirit of all that is merry and bright, here are five simple ways to practice mindfulness this holiday season.

  1. Sip your peppermint mocha mindfully. With the deluge of savory and sweet treats around the holidays, it’s easy to start engaging in mindless eating or overeating. Our office staff room always quickly fills up with goodies starting around Halloween, and by New Years most of us couldn’t tell you the difference between a macaroon and meatball. With all of the amazing dishes, it’s a great time to practice eating mindfully by taking one slow, delicious bite at a time. See this primer for how.
  2. Take a walk in the winter wonderland. For people who struggle to sit and chant “om” for an hour, a walking mediation is often a great way to connect with the present and develop a sense of peace. Try taking a quiet walk (leave the iPod at home) and observing the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors.
  3. Start a gratitude practice. The holidays can pull for us to get caught in the past, longing for people, places, and traditions long lost, and in the future, longing for more (more attractiveness, more friends, more stuff). What’s goes missing then is appreciation for the present. The holidays are a wonderful time to start a gratitude practice, whether that involves daily recitation, journaling, or some other creative endeavor.
  4. Make a holiday craft. Creating something beautiful around the holidays is a great way to engage your attention and senses, and can serve double duty as a low-cost gift for your great aunt! Check out Pinterest for awesome ideas.
  5. Hang your stockings with care. Try turning holiday decorating into a mindfulness practice by taking the time to notice the details in each decoration. Observe the way that each ornament reflects the twinkling lights and the smell of mothballs pulling out the stuffed snowman. Notice the way the flames on the menorah candles dance and the sound of the rustling leaves on the wreath as the door opens and closes. You can even turn this into a game, challenging yourself to make at least ten observations for each of the five senses.

However you celebrate the magic of the holidays, I wish you many mindful moments!


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  1. Bek @ Crave
    3 years ago

    Love this! I’ll definitely try it. And the mindful walks seem right up my alley :)
    Bek @ Crave recently posted..Pizza Dough- Vitamix style


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One Trackback

  1. [...] 5 simple — and meaningful — ways to be mindful this holiday season. This is one of my fave tips from Ashley: Make a holiday craft. Creating something beautiful around the holidays is a great way to engage your attention and senses, and can serve double duty as a low-cost gift for your great aunt! Check out Pinterest for awesome ideas. [...]

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