BREMERTON, Wash – The holiday season can be stressful, on the body and the mind. For the body, getting exercise can help Washingtonians feel better and get through the holidays.
And for the mind, Bonnie Schultz, a clinical social work practitioner at Group Health in Bremerton, suggests mindfulness-based stress reduction. Mindfulness is a practice that can be used as a form of therapy for anxiety, depression and other conditions. Schultz said getting comfortable with your own thoughts is its own kind of exercise.
“It’s just as important to practice mindfulness, practice being aware of what your thought flow is and being able to sit with your mind in a peaceful manner,” she explained.
Meditation is another tool for becoming more mindful. Schultz said one goal of mindfulness is to pay more attention to your surroundings, emotions, thoughts, and how your body feels. As you work to improve your awareness, her advice is to not be discouraged, mindfulness takes some practice.
During the holidays, Schultz recommends additional practice, by not judging yourself or others, and trusting your intentions to care for yourself. She suggests a ten-minute walk, focusing on walking slowly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s also important to start the day off right.
“We need to allow ourselves about ten minutes each morning to sit in the present moment, and that’s hard to do,” she explained. “But there’s nothing more important to do.”
If you have a loved one you suspect might be suffering during the season, Schultz said it’s important to sit down, talk to them, and let them know you’re listening and present.
“We’re such a busy culture,” she added. “We move fast, we think fast, we want to get things done and move on. But depression is slow. It has its own rhythm, like, you move more slowly, you think more slowly. It’s kind of a fog, and you’re filled with self-critical thoughts.”
Group Health’s website has more information on mindfulness-based stress reduction at ghc.org.
Featured Image: A health professional in Bremerton suggests practicing mindfulness to relieve stress during the hectic holiday season.(Dingzeyu Li/Unsplash)
Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.