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5 Ways to Use Mindfulness to Ease Holiday Stress

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The Holiday season has become incredibly hectic—what used to be a few days of tradition is now two months of frenzy, making it difficult to stay in the moment and actually enjoy the time of year. Practicing mindfulness, a meditative process that encourages being aware in the present moment without judgment, can help ease some of the stress. Today’s tips on how mindfulness can help people handle the holiday anxiety come from Lesley Seeger, LCSW, staff therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University and part of our Mindfulness and Behavior Therapies Program.

  1. Don’t lose track of you. It can be easy to run through the motions of the holidays quickly and lose sight of your own needs and feelings. As you move through the Holidays, check in with yourself and also make time for self-care. A quiet moment alone can help keep your priorities in check.
  1. Stay in the moment. Family holiday events can be particularly stressful because there are often many dynamics in one space: multiple generations and extensions, different personalities and lots of different emotions. If you feel yourself getting particularly overwhelmed in these situations, try to take a deep breath, notice the thoughts and feelings arising and then let them go as you bring yourself back to the present moment.
  1. Slow down. It’s important to set limits for yourself during this holiday season, as it’s impossible to tackle every request, party or task that may be expected of us. If you feel yourself spreading too thin or moving too quickly, stop, and slow down. Additionally, moving too quickly can cause you to miss moments—take a beat and notice what’s happening around you.
  1. Take a break. In particularly overwhelming or anxiety-inducing situations, it may be necessary to take a break, and that’s okay. Go for a walk or leave the room and take deep, slow breaths until you find yourself back in the present moment and able to let go of the thoughts and feelings you may be holding onto.
  1. Remember the purpose. The holidays are a time for us to be with our loved ones, enjoy old traditions and create new ones. Push to the side any pressures you may be feeling about to-do lists and people-to-see so that you can create space for simply being together.  Taste the food you’re eating, notice your nephew as he opens a gift from Grandpa, or see what you feel as you serve ham at the local homeless shelter.  Remember why the holidays are an important time of year, and be sure to be present enough to enjoy them.



Lesley Seeger, LCSW is a staff therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. She sees clients at our downtown Chicago location and is a member of the Mindfulness and Behavioral Therapies Program. To learn more about Lesley or make an appointment, please visit our website.


The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health treatment for families, couples and individuals. Learn more about what we do on our website.


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