Family get togethers, shopping, social activities and mile long checklists. The holiday season can be overwhelming to anyone. Amidst all of the celebrations, family gatherings and work parties, the bottles of wine are frequently flowing. There is alcohol almost everywhere during the holiday season. Many turn to alcohol when wanting to celebrate but also in order to shift moods or destress.
Whether you are in recovery or simply find the holiday season or family interactions stressful, alcohol can increase anxiety, decrease healthy sleep patterns and inadvertently compound the existing stress, so we wanted to provide a technique we find helpful during stressful times.
Many studies in the recent years have shown mindfulness-based therapies emotional regulation skills and overall mental wellbeing. At Sage, we believe this so strongly that we incorporate it into our programs.
One regular, yet simple practice of mindfulness, is mindful breathing, so we have provided a practice recommended by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.
Find a relaxed, comfortable position. You could be seated on a chair or on the floor on a cushion. Keep your back upright, but not too tight. Hands resting wherever they’re comfortable. Tongue on the roof of your mouth or wherever it’s comfortable.
Notice and relax your body. Try to notice the shape of your body, its weight. Let yourself relax and become curious about your body seated here—the sensations it experiences, the touch, the connection with the floor or the chair. Relax any areas of tightness or tension. Just breathe.
Tune into your breath. Feel the natural flow of breath—in, out. You don’t need to do anything to your breath. Not long, not short, just natural. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen. It may be in your chest or throat or in your nostrils. See if you can feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time. When one breath ends, the next breath begins.
Now as you do this, you might notice that your mind may start to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it is not a problem. It’s very natural. Just notice that your mind has wandered. You can say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. And then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing.
Stay here for five to seven minutes. Notice your breath, in silence. From time to time, you’ll get lost in thought, then return to your breath.
After a few minutes, once again notice your body, your whole body, seated here. Let yourself relax even more deeply and then offer yourself some appreciation for doing this practice today.
Mindfulness activities can be a very helpful tool during this upcoming holiday season. Incorporating this into your daily schedule, not just during the holiday season, will help support your mental health when any stressful event arises. If you would like further assistant in improving your mental health, contact us today.