As the holiday season approaches, most of us busy our minds by planning for future events, like shopping trips, traveling, and meals, and we forget to be present and enjoy the little moments in between everything else. In pursuit of our own priorities, we may forget to pause, acknowledge, and show appreciation to others and ourselves. Your heart-felt presence is the best gift you can give this holiday season. Here are five ways to be mindful and fully present:
1. Pause and appreciate the positives in your life.
Take time every day to think about the things you’re thankful for, such as your health, your home, your job, and your network of caring friends, family, and coworkers. Even if things aren’t perfect in your career or your relationships, it’s always possible to find the positive embedded in the negative.
When it comes to the people in your life, let them know you’re grateful for their presence in your life through a card, a call, or even a text message. Recount a memory or story that shows them the importance of your relationship.
2. Make yourself fully present to others.
In this busy, demanding world, it’s easy to feel like you have to do a million things at once. However, multi-tasking only divides your attention and prevents you from experiencing truly meaningful interactions with others. Instead of only lending half your attention, make an effort to listen fully and keep the other person at the center of your focus. Whether you’re talking with someone face-to-face or over the phone, remove elements that might distract you and prevent you from giving that person the attention they deserve. Listen to what they’re saying, ask insightful questions, and create a meaningful dialogue.
3. Plan activities that involve togetherness.
Research events in your area that you can participate in with your family, friends, or community. Organize outdoor group activities, cook together, set up a game night, or volunteer. Snap a few photos to capture the fun, but remember to be a part of the action as well.
4. Pay attention to others’ needs.
There are probably people within your circle that are going through a hard time this year, whether they’re coping with the loss of a loved one, health concerns, or financial strife. Offer help any way that you can: cook them a meal, babysit their children, or run some errands for them. If you are the person who needs a little more help this year, pay attention to that need. Make yourself vulnerable and ask your friends or family for help when you need it.
5. Take time for yourself.
In order to look out for and help others, you must first take care of yourself. Whether it’s five minutes or an hour, set aside time for yourself every day. Go for a walk, read, meditate, call a friend, dance around your kitchen—anything that brings you joy. Practice being present for yourself and attending to your unique needs. When you practice self-care, you better equip yourself to be fully present for those around you.
It’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters during the holiday season. Sometimes, it feels that meals, gifts, and decorations need to be perfect in order for the holiday to be a happy one, but your presence, both physical and emotional, will be what people remember when they look back. The garlands can wait and the cards can be stamped tomorrow: participate and be present in the holiday season!