Ask Yourself These 3 Questions -- Reduce Holiday Stress through Mindfulness

“Wander into the center of the circle of wonder.” This was a suggestion by Hongzhi Zhengjue, a Zen teacher in the 1100s. Consider how perfect this is for the holidays. Our minds wander a lot. The holidays are about wonderment and joy. But we are often so far off-track from this and wandering without awareness, we can’t enjoy the wonder of the holidays and without getting mired in habit and negativity.

What are your top priorities of the holidays? Often people will say food, family, quality time, shopping for presents, parties, and juggling many priorities.

What are the values of the holidays? Perhaps these resonate with you: love, appreciation, time with loved ones, generosity, belief, laughter, pleasure.

But what gets in the way of living these values? Stress, over-juggling, materialism and consumerism, trying to please others out of guilt, decorations and food to “perfection,” and focusing on the above priorities without being present, grateful, or recognizing your choices.

So if you find yourself feeling off-track these holidays, or feeling overwhelmed with resentment, frustration, guilt, judgment, or sadness, use these three questions to guide you back on course:

  1. Am I present and aware in this moment? (And do I have compassion for myself and others in this moment?)
  2. Am I grateful for myself and others? (And if I’m writing this down, or sharing verbally with others, am I including details about WHY I’m grateful and WHAT it means to me?)
  3. Am I making healthy choices? (Consider whether you’re realizing and owning that you’re making decisions, and consider if those choices are in your highest interest.)

I suggest writing these three questions down on sticky notes and posting them in places that will break you from your automatic patterns, and remind you that you can do things differently if you’d like. Being present in any moment helps us observe more accurately what’s actually happening, versus being on automatic pilot and reactive. Wonder and awe live in the spontaneity of a moment. So take a few deep breaths, observe with gratitude your surroundings, and make a choice to nurture and love yourself through wonder.

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexuality Speaker, Sexologist, Sex & Mindfulness Speaker

(The lovely image was borrowed from this site.)