Pause and take a deep breath during the holidays, says mindfulness expert
'When we just stop in a very simple way, we get back in touch with this moment'
The holidays can be a stressful time — and an unhappy time for some.
Dr. Mark Sherman, a family physician, mindfulness teacher and the executive director of the B.C. Association for Living Mindfully, has some tips to help people take care of themselves over the holidays.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being present with what is here, now, and accepting that without judgment.
Sherman said people often put pressure on themselves all year long, but the busy nature of the holidays can amplify stress.
"I think mindfulness is a wonderful opportunity to kind of stop, pause for a moment, slow down and remember what's most important for us at this time of year," he said.
Mindfulness is about noticing what's happening around you — what you see, hear, smell and feel physically and emotionally.
Sherman said finding a moment to pause can be a beneficial practice during the holidays.
That can include taking a deep breath, stopping to feel your feet against the floor or spending time looking at the colour of someone's eyes.
"Those pauses allow us to check back in the moment," Sherman said. "Our mind has so many habits of autopilot, of living in the future and the past."
This practice can be helpful particularly when there is something triggering, stressful or overwhelming, Sherman said.
"We live in a little bit of a fog. When we just stop in a very simple way, we get back in touch with this moment and perhaps what we need in this moment."
Ask yourself what you need
When one of your loved ones is struggling, it can be natural to reach out to help them. Sherman said people need to treat themselves in a similar way.
Sometimes what a person really needs might be as simple as a walk outside, a phone call with a friend, or allowing themselves to have a cry. Either way, Sherman said identifying needs plays a large role in staying present and minimizing holiday stress.