How to practice mindfulness during the holidays – Dr. Portia J

On Dec 23, 2015 9:00 AM, "Portia Jackson" <connect> wrote:

Hi Olga,

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How to practice mindfulness during the holidays

What do the holidays mean to you? Do you take time during this season to practice mindfulness?

As a child, my answers to these questions were simple. It meant two weeks (or more) of vacation, in which I was free to read, play, and rest at leisure. As far as mindfulness, I didn’t know what it was, but that didn’t stop me from practicing it daily. Children have an remarkable capacity for being present, fully engaged in play, and taking time for restoration (aren’t you jealous?).

As an adult, the holidays means that I have to prepare the next quarter’s work. I have to focus and work more efficiently than normal to make sure I can afford to take a few days off for rest. I have to be intentional to practice mindfulness and remember all that I do love about the holidays. If I don’t take time to practice mindfulness, I forget that I need time for rest at all.

Of course, the temptation is there to just keep working through the holidays. With a busy new year looming ahead, and so much to wrap up, who has time to do nothing at all? Well, engaging in meaningful activities designed to help you reconnect with what matters most, or simply taking time to unwind and be restored is not exactly the same as doing nothing.

Stress has a tendency to pileup during the holiday season. If you don’t take time to take care of yourself now, when will you make it a priority? I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you deal with holiday stress. By creating margin in your life, you give yourself a chance to be grounded and regain focus on your goals before heading into a new year.

When did life get so complicated?

When stores start their holiday display prior to Halloween, its difficult to see the holidays as more than a commercialized gimmick to make sure stores meet their sales goals. Where is the joy in giving when it is thinly veiled as a task of spending? It is easy to lose the holiday spirit when you are doing your third loop around the mall parking lot looking for a space.

I remember making homemade gifts for everyone one year. I seem to have lost that childlike creativity that saw a beautiful candle display in a bag of stones, flowers, and a few golden charger plates. Every holiday card I receive is a reminder that I am still not doing this "adult" thing correctly.

Or, perhaps, I’m wrong.

Perhaps the holidays should be different as an adult than they were for me as a child. I revel in the ritual of setting up the artificial christmas tree (its so much easier, I have come to believe). I don’t miss the pine needles that so quickly unyoked themselves from the tree.

I love gathering with my family as much as I did as a child. Now, I am the one spending a moment with my younger cousins and giving them hugs, reminding them that they are loved. I still enjoy the foods, but know that it is a seasonal indulgence and I’ll need to lay off of the sweets in the New Year.

I don’t need presents. A holiday wish carries just as far as a new toy ever did. I rejoice in the people I have to share life with. As I’ve grown and lost family and friends, the blessing of having people to spend life with has evolved into one of my greatest treasures. Of course, sometimes this means my heart aches with loss. My sorrow is an indication of how deeply I have loved. As I said, the holidays are complicated.

I have grown to embrace mindfulness of my feelings, whether simple or complex. In our Christmas service this past Sunday, I learned about the value of hope–waiting patiently, even when life is difficult. I thought about how quickly I give up hope in light of difficulty. This message, which I would have struggled to embrace as a child, empowers me as an adult. In the season, I find the ability to reconnect with loved ones, as well as the values with which I live my life. These are gifts that money cannot buy.

How to practice mindfulness during the holidays

When you think about what the holidays mean to you, have they lost some of their charm? How can you reconnect with your values each day? Remember what matters most to you, and put that first. If you don’t have a mindfulness practice, the end of the year is a wonderful time to start.

Pick a setting that is meaningful to you:

  1. Sit still in a quiet room
  2. Sit still outside in a place that allows you to escape mentally
  3. Take a walk
  4. Watch a sunrise

Eliminate distractions (e.g. silence your cell phone) while you reflect on any of the following:

  1. What did you enjoy most about the holidays as a child?
  2. What do you look forward to during the holidays as an adult?
  3. What did you learn this year? What lesson would you like to take with you into the new year?
  4. What habit or practice do you want to leave behind in this year? What will you need to do differently to make sure that takes place?

What will you do to practice mindfulness?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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My name is Dr. Portia Jackson and I help high-achieving, passion-driven people achieve balance and avoid burnout. Eighty percent of workers experience burnout in their jobs, and 86 percent of millennial report burnout in their current position, according to a survey.

What are the benefits of working with me?

Companies benefit from decreased turnover and increased employee engagement and productivity.

Clients benefit from a customized strategy to:
(1) Identify and prioritize areas in their lives in need of balance
(2) Establish routines to protect their health and prevent over-commitment
(3) Develop systems to maintain these practices

How do I work with clients?

Via skype or phone, I serve as a guide to help individuals develop a customized strategy that:
a. Identifies and prioritizes areas in need of balance
b. Establishes routines and boundaries to prevent burnout
c. Develops systems to maintain these practices

I also provide training and workshops to groups of 30 or more.

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Portia Jackson, DrPH

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Click here to learn more about Dr. Portia Jackson and her services, or to book a complimentary Skype consultation. Thanks, and have a great weekend!


P.O. Box 8454
Long Beach CA 90808

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