Five mindfulness tips for the holiday season

If the holidays feel stressful for you and your family, try practicing mindfulness

The holiday season has arrived—and along with it, numerous kids’ activities, gift-buying and hectic schedules that often come with the season. Although the holidays are often marked by festivities and fun, for many people—including children—it can also be a stressful time.

To help you and the kids in your life navigate this busy season, below are a handful of mindfulness tips. Mindfulness is being used at BC Children’s Hospital with kids, families and the health care community as a helpful resource for coping with life’s challenges. Mindfulness is often defined as paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement and with compassion (adapted from mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn).

Here are a few ways you and your family can practice mindfulness this holiday season.

1.  Silent sights

Inhale deeply into your belly. On the out-breath, sigh as quietly and slowly as possible until all the air is released. Try sighing out words, names or phrases that you are stuck on or frustrated about. Let them ease out of you completely on the out-flow of your breathing. Repeat as needed.

2.  Nibble feast

Take a small nibble of food. Hold the rest and explore it with your other senses. Place it in your mouth and notice the feel and taste without chewing. Chew it very slowly and notice all you can. Immerse yourself in the eating experience in every way possible. Notice how a little attention can expand a nibble into a feast.

3.  Feel your feet

Take a deep breath. Imagine the air going all the way down to your feet. Feel the sensations of your feet against the floor. Are your feet warm or cool, dry or moist, comfortable or itchy? What else do you notice? How solid and grounded do you feel now?

4.  Belly breath

Lay down and rest your hands on your belly. Watch, listen and feel your breath move in and out, up and down for three deep breaths.

5.  Hot chocolate

Quietly breathe in through your nose as if smelling a mug of hot chocolate. Exhale by blowing out through your mouth as if you are cooling it off. Practice this whenever your emotions get too hot. (And if you don’t like chocolate, pick another hot food).

At BC Children’s Hospital, mindfulness is being used every season of the year to help kids and teens cope with struggles like pain, depression and anxiety. This past June, the hospital launched its new Centre for Mindfulness with the help of donor support. As one of the first mindfulness centres at a children’s hospital globally, its ultimate vision is to create a culture of mindfulness at BC Children’s that will help kids, teens, families and health care providers here and around the world.

These mindfulness tips have been adapted from the Growing Mindful Card Deck: Mindfulness Practices for All Ages, created by Mitch Abblett and Christ Willard.

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