Using Mindfulness to Manage Holiday Stress

December 19, 2019

We all know the feeling. You’ve tacked too much on your holiday must-do list and now you feel rushed, hurried, distracted, and altogether unequipped to manage.

The holiday season is particularly primed for this type of dysfunction. Instead of showing ourselves kindness, we set insurmountable expectations and uphold an unending desire for culminating perfection in our family’s holiday.

Sound familiar?

At Aura, we don’t want you to have to fall into a dark pit of stress and anxiety for your holiday – instead, we have scoured the latest mindfulness research available to provide you with these proven techniques for managing holiday stress, so you can get back to enjoying more peace and happiness this holiday season.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has published a research article by Britta Hölzel, of Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School that analyzed specific mindfulness techniques and their benefit on overall health and well-being.

By using a framework approach to understand the specifics of mindfulness, Hölzel and her co-authors point out that what we think of as mindfulness is not actually a single skill. Rather, it is a multi-faceted mental practice that encompasses several mechanisms (1). The following specific mechanisms were demonstrated to significantly decrease stress and it’s negative effects.

Attention Regulation

Attention regulation is a powerful mindfulness tool to bring your awareness to the present moment.

The term attention regulation refers to the ability to self-monitor one’s deployment of attention, which includes maintaining attention, ignoring distracting or irrelevant stimuli, staying alert to task goals, and coordinating one’s attention during a task (2).

To practice attention regulation, find a quiet spot to begin with few distractions. You may choose to close your eyes or focus on an object in front of you. Bring your attention to this moment, only now. What is the setting around you? What do you see in front of you? Do you have a vision when you close your eyes? Focusing on this moment or an object in front of you can help you to bring your attention to right now.

Body Awareness

A great way to improve attention regulation is to tap into our senses. You can think about something you feel – like the ground beneath you, the clothes on your body, the very breath you’re taking in. If you start to notice your mind wandering, gently bring your focus back to your senses and your breath.

Next, try to see if there’s something you can hear. It may be relaxing music, the wind or even a heater if you’re indoors. You can take this a step further and see if there’s any noticeable smell or taste you can notice.

With daily practice, over time you will find it easier to stay focused on the moment for longer periods of time.  

Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation means to intentionally reduce the intensity of our emotions (3).

Try taking an inventory of the emotions you’re experiencing. Do this without judgment towards yourself or whatever emotion you may be feeling. Journaling can be an effective way to do this exercise and helps solidify your inventory. Observe your emotions and acknowledge their existence.

Try isolating each emotion and noticing how it feels. Do you feel it in your chest? Your shoulders perhaps?

If you’re addressing a negative emotion, like stress, try telling it thank you, but you can go now. Kindly dismiss your undesired emotions and allow them to become calm put them to rest while encouraging your positive emotions like optimism, gratitude, and joy flourish.

Emotion regulation is difficult and takes practice. The Aura App has a number of guided meditations to help you do this step-by-step with quick, easy to follow recorded sessions with mindfulness experts.

Sense of Self

A sense of self is defined as one’s perception of oneself and an awareness of who you truly are. Each person’s sense of self is directly related to how they feel about themselves, their levels of self-esteem, and their confidence or lack thereof (4).

Make a conscious effort to believe in yourself and take time to do activities you enjoy. You are important and it’s OK to take this time for yourself – you need and deserve it.

Daily meditation can help improve your sense of self and allow you the time you need to get to know your emotions and how they react with each other. Think about your values, beliefs, what makes you, you.

If you haven’t done this in awhile it may take time for you to find a strong sense of self again. Over time, with practice, you can culminate a better sense of self that will help ground you and minimize the stress in your life.

In Closing,

We hope that you can use attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation and your sense of self to reduce stress and anxiety and soak up the joy in your life.

Effective mindfulness meditation requires repetition and practice in order for it to take effect on your mind, body, and emotions. The Aura app makes daily practice easy for you to meditate daily with 1,000’s of short meditations you can access anytime.

Happy Holidays!
The Aura Mindfulness Team

About Aura

Aura understands your emotions and helps you feel better.

Whenever you’re stress & anxiety or having trouble sleeping, Aura will find mindfulness meditations, life coaching, stories, and music, created by the best therapists and coaches, personalized just for you.

It takes just 3 minutes to feel better, and Aura will continuously learn about what helps you and improve the recommendations. Download the App or learn more at https://www.aurahealth.io/.

Sources:

1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26168376

2 – Ruff & Rothbart, 1996

3 – Phychology Today

4 – Better Help

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