Final exams are now over (or will be over soon), which means you're transitioning into winter break. I don't know about you, but whenever I'm finished with a stressful period, I like to take a nice break from tasks to help me recharge my batteries. During the holiday season, that's not always possible. And it's even more difficult if you are still in season for your sport (and especially difficult if you're traveling to compete). So how do we stay present and focused when we also feel like we need a break?
One of the best tools to help us remain present and focused is mindfulness. The main premise of mindfulness is to be present focused with a calm awareness of what is occurring internally and externally. The Greater Good outlines the science behind why mindfulness is important, a number of great resources, and various ways to practice. (And rather than recreate a good thing, I encourage you to check out their page.) Andy Puddicombe demonstrates a bit of mindfulness in his Ted talk.
There is no good or bad in mindfulness; everything just is. There is something very powerful about experiencing the present moment without judgment.
So my challenge to you during the holiday season is simply this: work on being as fully present during this holiday season as possible. Focus on specific things in the environment to help you be more present. Use your breath to center yourself or try other activities the Greater Good recommends. Not everything will go perfectly, and that's okay! Just notice it and move on. There can be something incredibly powerful about removing judgment and being where your feet are .
In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I too, will focus on being present. I'll be away from social media for a few weeks and back the week of January 9. Taking a social media/blogging break helps me participate in the moment fully and appreciate each situation for what it is. I'll spend time reconnecting with family and friends and get LOTS of puppy snuggles. It's also a great time for me to clear my head and be intentional about what I want to accomplish in this space. I will be sharing several cool new things with you next year and want to wrap my mind around how to best share them with all of you!
I also want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for taking time out of your day to read my posts and follow me on social media. I've met so many wonderful people this way. One of the most precious gifts we can give someone is our time, and spending your time reading what I share is so meaningful to me.
Best wishes to all of you for a mindful holiday season!
Dr. Erin Haugen is a licensed clinical psychologist and sport/performance psychologist located in Grand Forks, ND. She specializes in helping college student-athletes excel in sports and in life. She is a former basketball player, current triathlete, and loves dogs.
Disclaimer: You should consult an appropriate professional for specific advice tailored to your situation. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, you should call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.