Increase your physical and mental health with these holiday exercises
The end of the year is a time of celebration and giving thanks. And it’s the perfect time to seek stillness and peace at the end of what has been a tumultuous 12 months. Taking time to pause amid the holiday season will not only increase your physical and mental wellbeing but will also make you a more patient manager, parent, and friend.
Here are three ways to tend to yourself this holiday season:
Gratitude can have a powerful impact on your outlook and frame of mind. Studies have shown that gratitude practices make you more optimistic and increase your resilience. Gratitude can also make you a better manager by increasing your ability to motivate your team and spread a positivity. The Be team has put together a timely gratitude practice for the season:
- Find a quiet place. It could be your kitchen table on a slow Sunday morning or a park bench on a sunny day. You’ll need a pen and paper.
- Take a deep breath to center yourself. Concentrate on the feel of the air moving in and out of your lungs. Do this as long as you’d like to relax and connect with your body.
- Take out your piece of paper—or open your journal—and make a list of five things you’re grateful for. They can be big—like your health—or small—like a snack you have for later. Take your time while compiling the list.
- Now, consider the three things that have challenged you in 2020. (We have a feeling making this list won’t be hard.) Perhaps it was working from home or social isolation. If you can, write down a lesson each of these challenges taught you. It might be hard to find a silver lining, and the point of the exercise is not to undermine how difficult things have been but to shift your frame of mind to something more positive.
- Take a few deep breaths and read over your lists a few times, breathing in the positive and exhaling any negative or anxious feelings you have.
- While the holidays are a common time for people to reflect on what they are grateful for, you can use this practice whenever you like and as often as you’d like. Start your day by listing three things you are thankful for. You can also ask your friends, family, or partner to talk about what they have to be thankful for when you sit down for dinner each night. This is a great practice for team meetings and young children, especially during stressful times.
If you’re in the Northern hemisphere, Fall is in full swing and winter is around the corner. Leaves are growing colorful before they fall off their branches. Days are growing shorter, and the weather chillier. This is a time when animals hibernate and flowers die to make room for rebirth in the spring. It’s a wonderful moment to reflect on what areas in your life that need a reset. If you have time off in the coming weeks, take a moment for a walking renewal mediation:
- Find a relaxing playlist if you’d like to listen to music while you walk and be sure to dress for the weather. Try to pick a time of day when it’s still light outside.
- Roll your shoulders back and straighten your posture. Now, begin walking. Concentrate on the feel of the path beneath your feet and the scenery. What do you see and smell?
- Take several deep breaths, concentrating on (you guessed it!) the feel of the air moving through your nose and lungs.
- Be aware of any thoughts that pop into your mind. Observe them with curiosity then let them drift away like bubbles.
- When your mind is clear, pose a question to yourself: “What am I holding onto that no longer serves me?” You don’t need to jump to any immediate conclusions. Just let the question settle in your mind as you walk. You can even say it out loud.
- After you’ve become comfortable with the question, return to your breath and surroundings. Be in the moment as much as possible and see what thoughts arise.
- You don’t need to make any changes to your life during this walk—that’s not the point of the exercise. Just open yourself up to possibilities and see what comes up for you.
- Keep walking for as long as you’d like, letting the thoughts come as they may. When you decide to end the exercise, take a few deep breaths.
- Journal about your meditation and the thoughts that came into your awareness. Again, you don’t have to make any decision today about what you may release in the coming weeks—this is just the beginning of the process.
Mindfulness for the holidays
Mindfulness is important throughout the year but it can be challenging to be in the moment during the busy holiday season. There are Zoom celebrations to schedule and meals to coordinate. With the happiness of the holidays also comes stress.
Remind yourself to pause and take a breath. Consider adding a reminder to your cell phone or work calendar. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the holiday season. If you hear your children laugh, pause to soak in the memory. If you sit down for a wonderful meal, take a moment to appreciate the food—the smells and colors—before digging in.
Movement, connecting your mind to your body, is another great way to root yourself in the moment. Join our Mindful Movement Yoga class to learn more about this technique.
Happy holidays from the entire Be team! We hope to see you in class soon. Check out the schedule here.