We are about to enter the busiest time of year, both personally and professionally. The “to do” list gets longer and longer with year-end rapidly approaching, and the nights and weekends become more jammed-packed with errands and commitments. It’s easy to see how we can lose track of who we are and why we are doing things, and wake up stressed, dreading that moment when our feet touch the ground. Unfortunately, this often translates into snapping at strangers and loved ones, and missing the beauty and abundance of joy around us.
How can we take these moments to cultivate a practice of gratitude, kindness, and being present – practicing mindfulness? This is not about perfection; it’s about being the best we can be in each moment. Sometimes, this might mean not engaging in a political debate with a relative or breathing deeply when the person ahead of you grabs the last muffin in the bakery. Below are a few tips that help me to cultivate mindfulness and enjoy the holidays a little more:
- Put yourself first. Schedule what is important for you. Whether it’s exercise, reading, or baking for loved ones, make time for it.
- Abandon the “shoulds.” Let go of the heavy expectations we hang on ourselves. There are plenty of people who can host the party, bring the cookies, and hang the lights. You don’t have to do it all by yourself.
- Slow down. Be judicious about what you are agreeing to do (see the point above).
- Come with an open heart and open mind, particularly when the activity isn’t where you want to be or doesn’t embody your values.
- Find your joy. Keep it close, despite the challenges you may encounter.
- Be kind to yourself when you’re tired, when you snap in line, when you get upset about the things you can’t control, which applies to most of the things around us.
- Reverse your point of view. For example, try “Isn’t it great that there are so many people to share my time and energy with during the holiday season,” rather than “Ugh, another commitment.” It’s easy to lose track of why we agreed to things in the first place during times of rush, commitments, and deadlines.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally” -Jon Kabat-Zin
Remember, the idea of mindfulness is simple; it’s the doing that’s hard. May you have a peace and happiness as we enter the holiday season!
By Rachel Shields Williams, Senior Manager, Experience Management, Sidley Austin LLP