Solo parents are no strangers to stress. We don’t need to mention what it takes to raise a great kid single-handedly, because we know! And, look! Oh joy! The holiday season is upon us, which can add an extra dose of chaos for solo parents. Financial, emotional, family and other stressors become heightened as soon as the Halloween decorations are taken down.
But we’ve got something to try right here, right now, to get your groove on without buying a thing. Practice relaxation and meditation techniques—such as mindfulness—and ease the need to get caught up in the end-of-year turmoil in order to allow for a peaceful holiday season.
Because it reduces stress and the knee-jerk fight or flight response typically resulting from stress, mindfulness is a psychological approach and a growing practice, which is can be applied with very few bells and whistles. And since the holiday season is chock full of stressors, there’s no better time to practice mindfulness, and focus on the present. And this gift is the present moment—quite possibly the most valuable gift to give or receive.
Daily stress levels typically double during the holidays. High stress has been shown to cause illness and wreak havoc on mental health, so it’s crucial to learn to manage and reduce it. Mindfulness can assist in that effort and aid us on a path of personal growth. And bonus, we set a marvelous example for kids when we practice stress management. Added bonus, the less stressed we are, the more available we become to our children, friends, family, and to ourselves.
So, how does it work? Well, there are many ways to practice mindfulness in order to ease stress this holiday season, or any time of the year. Here are five:
- Sit. Stay. Heal. – It may sound like commands for a canine companion, but in fact it is the unofficial mantra for mindfulness. Sit with yourself – your pain, feelings, thoughts and experiences—by giving yourself needed quiet time amidst the holiday gatherings. Stay with the moment, and resist the urge to avoid, escape or distract yourself with holiday prepping. Having a mindset of healing can reduce the sting of backhanded compliments or direct jabs from extended family members or other holiday encounters, because we put our need for peace first.
- Judgment-free zone. – Mindfulness is a practice, not a punishment. There is no judgment. It is a safe place for you to be, and experience, without criticism. Free yourself from the deadly habit of criticism by practicing mindfulness instead of perfectionism. If during meditation you find your mind wandering outside the moment, don’t criticize yourself. Just breathe, and come back to the present moment. It’s about progress; not perfection.
- No filter. – Like a selfie with no enhancements, you wipe your mind free of filters. Keep it simple. Simply see yourself and others as human beings, sharing the same life experience with unique circumstances and coping mechanisms, but all fallible and in need of love and understanding. It’s an extension of the spirit of the holidays—peace, joy and good will toward others and yourself.
- Serenity now. – Stress is chaos. The holiday season can amplify stress. Mindfulness is a practice in peace—the authentic intention of this time of year.
- One moment at a time. – Getting caught up in the “what if’s” typically leads to anxiety and dangerous levels of stress. Adding the unpredictability of family gatherings and holiday events is enough to push anyone over the edge. Mindfulness focuses only on the moment with no fear of the future—a reminder to simply be and breathe. It is a practice in being present—the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our friends and family.
We at Solo Parent Magazine want to give you the gift of peace, Solo Nation! It starts with a single breath. Happy Holidays!
To get started practicing mindfulness today: http://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/
For more information on how to practice mindfulness: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditation