How To: ENJOY the Holidays More.

Guest Contributor: Jodie Buonopane Freid

Woman holding christmas giftsDo you ever feel like the holidays are a whirlwind? Like you’re caught up in all the hustle and bustle and then, all of a sudden, they’re over? You’re like, what just happened? How did they come and go, so fast?

And, sadly, for some people, they feel like it was so much work and took so much out of them.  This happens to many of us.  We live in a fast-paced, over-indulgent, instant gratification society and it’s funny how we’ve adjusted our expectations to meet that.  Stop and think about that for a moment.

In today’s day and age, we have a couple of liberties we can use to our advantage to better manage it all:  technology and mindfulness!  If we learn to use each of these to our benefit, especially at this time of the year, then perhaps we can view our cell phones and tablets as a gift than a curse!  Give yourself a holiday gift by considering the following:

Online shopping:

  • There is no better time to utilize your phone to download a stores’ app and at the click of a few buttons you may find what you need for the holidays.  Added bonus? Depending on where you shop, you may get below market prices with free and speedy shipping.  
  • It’s an ultra-convenient way to squeeze in some shopping without the stress, without hiring a sitter to watch the kids, and avoiding the traffic and tension in the stores.  When you do your shopping, take time to enjoy it by either carving out time to shop in your calendar, distraction free or allow yourself to be immersed for the five or ten minutes you do spend in between other parts of your day.  Just don’t do it while driving, sitting in traffic, or at a red light 😊.  Do it without multi-tasking.  
  • But don’t you still want to go out in to the stores, experience the music and get in the holiday spirit? If you do, consider using a personal day off from work to go shopping early, not only early in the day, but early in the season- before the rush sets in.  That would be….right about NOW!
  • Whichever route you take, cross some items off your to-do list later that day.  It’ll bring closure to things pending on your list/mind/causing you to fret and stress with “so much to do”.
  • Apply these tips to even your grocery shopping (go when they first open or right before they close, avoid high-traffic times like mid-day weekends).  
  • This all will create room for you to enjoy the season so much more.  Life goes by fast enough, our kids grow up too fast, slow it down by being present.

Now, how do we apply being mindful to our lives at this busy time of the year?  Let me help you by breaking it down in some simple steps:

  • First, mindfulness in its’ simplest terms means being “present” (there’s a lot of present and gift talk here in my blog today!).
  • Being present means simply tuning in to only what you are doing using your five senses.  You will enhance memory, feel more relaxed and in control, and enjoy more positive than negative to the experience.  Try wrapping a few gifts while tuning in to how the wrapping paper sounds, feels, and looks as you have it in your hands.  Let distractions come and go (mindfully visualize pushing the distraction away).  Take this time and devote what you can to it.
  • It does not mean to multitask.  But, we’ve all been there, doing things that are mundane automatically.  I’ve heard people say, “how else will we get everything done in a day”?  It’s the society we live in.  But, you do have control over how you spend your time.  It’s not about not having enough time, it’s about reshuffling how you spend your time.  
  • Mindfulness takes practice.  Set your timer for a few minutes in a quiet pleasant space and think of a pleasant image or memory and just take it in.  This proactive practice serves a few purposes: 1.) it allows you to wind down and enjoy some quiet time, 2.) it allows you to feel the relaxing benefit afterwards, and 3.) it provides positive reinforcement for you to consider adding more of these moments to your life.    
  • When distractions knock on your door, and they will, then imagine sweeping them away with a broom and coming right back to the image/memory or whatever you are trying to be mindful at.  Moments of mindfulness can deliver days of decompression.  
  • Notice how you feel afterwards and what the experience was like for you.  If it was hard, it will get easier.  If it was emotional, that is ok.  The emotions may have needed to come out.  Keep practicing, don’t give up.  A little positive self-change is better than no change at all.  You deserve this.   

Stay tuned for Holidays and Emotions that rise at this time of the year.

About our Guest Contributor:

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Jodie Buonopane Freid is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor living and working outside of Boston, Ma.  Jodie is in private practice specializing in women’s care and general adult mental health.  Whether in the trenches of parenthood or not, Jodie’s passion lies in supporting women to remember that they matter, too.  Self-care, mindfulness, relaxation and stress reduction, exercise and nutrition, and teaching ways to improve sleep are her areas of passion and expertise.  Jodie is also a mother, wife, and animal lover who enjoys spending time with her two boys, making art, being outdoors, and taking care of her four pets (a dog, two cats, and a Russian Tortoise).  Jodie spends her “me time” doing pure barre, growing her practice, and writing or creating something!

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