5 Mindfulness Activities to Conquer Holiday Stress

Let’s face it, the holidays can be stressful. One of the best ways to conquer that stress is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Below are five mindfulness activities that can help you conquer stress during the holidays and any other time of year. 

Use mindful breathing and meditation

Mindful breathing

This is breathing done with mindfulness. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system which calms you down. This keeps your stress hormones in check and quiets your busy mind.


Meditation is a form of mindfulness that typically begins with breathing which aims to train attention awareness. It typically involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, and the sensations of breathing on parts of the body, bringing your attention back whenever the mind starts to wander. 


Breathing and Meditation Exercises:
Exercise How
3 Conscious Breaths
  • Inhale quietly through your nose for four seconds
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds
  • Exhale completely through your mouth for eight seconds
  • Repeat two more times
Progressive Relaxation
  • Get in a comfortable position; close your eyes
  • Focus on your breath
  • Tighten, then relax muscles throughout the body-beginning with the face, then the neck and shoulders, arms, etc., and ending with your feet.
  • Get comfortable and close your eyes
  • Focus on your breath
  • Relax tense muscles in your body
  • Imagine yourself in a beautiful, safe place doing a relaxing, fun activity and stay there for a bit
Cook’s Hook-Up
  • Cross your left ankle over your right
  • Extend both arms in front of you, hands back to back
  • Cross right hand over left and wrist and clasp fingers together, interlocked
  • Tuck clasped hands under and up, and rest them comfortably on your chest
  • Inhale slowly through your nose with your tongue up in the mouth.  Exhale through your mouth, tongue down
  • Hold this pose, gently, and continue slow deep breathing for two plus minutes
Square Breathing
  • Breathe in deeply through your nose, until your lungs are totally full
  • Hold your breath FULL, count to four or five slowly
  • Exhale slowly out through your mouth, until your lungs are totally empty
  • Hold EMPTY, count to four or five slowly
  • Start again, repeating with a gentle, relaxing rhythm 


Move mindfully

Mindfulness doesn’t always have to take place when we are sitting quietly. It can happen with movement! Practicing mindfulness while you are walking in nature is a great activity. Notice the sounds and the sights around you. When your mind starts wandering, bring it back to the present moment and again focus on what you are seeing and hearing.

Practice gratitude

Gratitude is an expression of appreciation for what one has. It has many benefits and actually changes our brain to be in a more mindful and relaxed state. You can practice gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal where you record at least three things a day that you are grateful for. In addition, writing a letter or sending an email or text to someone you appreciate is a great way to focus on gratitude. It will make them feel better – and will make you feel better too! 

Accept what you can’t change

Acceptance is at the heart of mindfulness – accept the present moment just as it is. Accept situations by talking to the necessary people, learning from mistakes, and moving on. In addition, it’s important to accept yourself. That includes your weaknesses, shortcomings, and things about you that you don’t like, as well as things you do. 

Practice self-care

Take an active role in protecting your own well-being, pursuing happiness, and having the ability, tools, and resources to be resilient to stress. Doing something you enjoy every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, is important. You don’t have to do all the things and be all things to all people. Take a little time to just be! 


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