How to Be Mindful During the Holidays, in 350 words

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist monk

Post written by Leo Babauta.

The holidays are a busy and stressful time for most people — with work and gift shopping and get-togethers and all kinds of other events and worries, it’s a wonder we stay sane at all.

The secret to survival — and in fact to having a wonderful time during these holidays and any stressful situation — is to stay in the moment, as much as possible. This is something I work on all the time, and it’s easy to forget.

However, it’s also easy to do, if you stay conscious of it. Here’s how:

1. A simple practice. Take a fruit — an apple, a pear, a peeled banana or kiwi, some berries — and eat them mindfully. Slowly. Take a small bite, and really experience it. Feel the texture in your mouth. Savor the taste. Smell the fruit. Think about how you feel as you eat the fruit. Feel the juices in your mouth. Feel yourself swallow the bite. Eat the entire fruit this way, one bite at a time, really feeling and tasting and smelling and experiencing this fruit.

2. A simple mantra. Each time you feel yourself getting stressed or overwhelmed, remember the fruit. Say to yourself “apple” or “banana” or “berries” (or whatever fruit you ate), and remember what it was like to be mindful as you ate that fruit. Now do the same thing with whatever you’re doing right now — whether you’re out shopping, or spending time with loved ones, or doing a work task. Focus on one thing, and really be in the moment with that thing or that person.

3. Remember what’s important. During these holidays, think about what’s most important to you. That might be your loved ones, or a loved one, whether that’s a spouse or friends or kids or parents or whatever. It might be your work — what you create and are passionate about. It might be something else. Focus on that during these holidays, and remember that the rest is just noise. It’s not important. Fully experience what’s important to you, and let the rest fade away.