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Christmas candlePause. Breathe. Breathe again. Many of us are exhausted and stressed by this point at year’s end. Sometimes, we are so exhausted that we can’t enjoy the holidays. Instead of  having yourself a “merry little Christmas,” maybe we could work toward a mindful Christmas. Here are a few ideas to give yourself a mindful moment this season, whichever holiday(s) you celebrate.

10 Finger Thanks

Think of ten things you’re thankful for as you count on your fingers. This may take some extra thought, but the benefits of a grateful heart are worth it! You can do this by yourself or with family and friends.

3 Senses

Pause and use three senses to observe your surroundings. Spend a minute on each sense. What are three things you can see? What are three things you can hear? What are three things you can feel? For more information, see the 3 Senses Mindfulness Activity. What would we see if we truly looked?

“Mindfulness is a love affair with life. You see the beauty in everybody and in everything.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Do “You” this Holiday

Sometimes we try to please others and be who they think we should be. That can make a person miserable, and tired. Truth is, the best we can be is our best self. Honor your own desires and wishes. Maybe you just need a little time for yourself to gain perspective. Maybe you need a ‘long winter’s nap!’ This meditation from the Center for Mindfulness can help a person observe their own thoughts and emotions.

Breathe in Your Reality

When we stop comparing our life to the ideal we wish it was, and start accepting our own reality, we develop contentment and serenity. And we could all use a little more of that this holiday. When we start to accept our own reality, we may find treasures in our own situation we didn’t realize before.

 

Sources

American Psychological Association. (2018). “Managing Expectations.” https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress-managing-expectations.aspx
Wong, J. & Brown, J. (June 2017). “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain New research is starting to explore how gratitude works to improve our mental health.” Published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

 

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

 

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christmas-2411764_1280Recently my extended family went through a time of crisis. My own immediate family was one of many who stepped in to help. The aftermath of this crisis left many of my immediate family members exhausted and/or sick. After about 5 weeks of one type of sickness or another at my house, I remember thinking… “It doesn’t matter to me what our Christmas looks like this year, I just want my kids to be healthy.” I know that feeling of wanting things to get back to “normal.”

Yesterday at every store I encountered there was someone dealing with some sort of crisis: family illness, loved one in the hospital, recent passing of a parent, and even a pet emergency. This time of year when many people are already experiencing more stress than they can handle, an added crisis is sometimes enough to push us to the edge. Having just dealt with crisis, and knowing how much it means to be the recipient of kindness and caring, I tried my best to offer encouragement and positive thoughts with these folks who are dealing with so much.

We may never know what others around us are dealing with. Maybe that impatient person behind you in line is in crisis right now. Maybe that fast driver is trying to see his baby in NICU after a long day at work. What if that weary person next to you is undergoing cancer treatment? What if… a kind word from you can bring a smile? What can you do today to be an encourager and spread some holiday cheer?

Here are some ideas for random acts of holiday kindness:

  1. Give up your spot in line.
  2. Donate money to an organization or charity.
  3. Pay for someone else’s coffee.
  4. Send cards to those in military service
  5. Take a meal to someone who needs it.
  6. Donate food to your food bank.
  7. Donate pet supplies to a shelter.
  8. Help someone with a chore.
  9. Do yard work or shovel for a neighbor.
  10. Donate books you no longer need.
  11. Pick up litter.
  12. Leave a popcorn surprise for strangers to find.
  13. Donate toys to a children’s hospital.
  14. Donate new pajamas for children in foster care.
  15. Feed the birds.

What other ideas can your family come up with? This could be tonight’s dinner topic! When your children see you sharing kindness with others, they will likely adopt this compassionate behavior. In fact, one study showed teens who helped others felt more positive about their own lives. Families can enjoy sharing some holiday kindness together.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by:  Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County.

Source:

American Psychological Association. 2017. “What makes kids care? Teaching gentleness in a violent world.” Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/kids-care.aspx

 

 

 

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