Mindful Tips for the Holiday Season

Brown School teacher and MindUP Coordinator Rebecca Calos was interviewed on News Channel 13 about the importance of using MindUP strategies both in school and during the holidays.  The full interview can be found on the WNYT website.

Tip #1:  Focus on the present moment—Mindful Awareness
So often when things get hectic and stressful our minds race forward to all the “impending disasters” or back to all the “horrible things that have happened.”  We need to remember to focus on the present moment.  The more we can attune to our feelings and emotions in the present moment, the more effectively we can manage our stress.  This is particularly important for teachers—and at Brown School, a mindful practice is central to our classroom culture.

Tip #2:  Deep Breathing—the Core Practice
At Brown School, students engage in a core practice on a regular basis.  This entails focusing on their breath for a period of 1-2 minutes.  As one does so, the “reflective” part of the brain “lights up,” and calms the more “reactive” part of the brain.  A regular practice of deep, focused breathing, can help you to be more relaxed, reflective and calm.

Tip #3: Savor happiness
During the holidays we often find ourselves drowning in a material world.  The pressure to “buy the right gift” or to guarantee that our children have a “happy holiday,” can sometimes derail us from what really makes us, and our families, happy.  Taking time to recall happy events from the past or to simply enjoy the pleasure of a particularly poignant moment in the present can help us to “regain” our balance.  At Brown School, children recall happy moments to help ease anxiety and develop greater resiliency.

Tip #4: Compassion
Holiday seasons are accompanied by a flood of consumerism but also by a heightened awareness of those who are in need. Giving to others, whether it is through kind words, your time, or perhaps your resources, is incredibly rewarding and is an important example to set for your children.  One sometimes assumes that kids only want to receive, but much of that is a “pre-set” societal expectation.  Children are innately kind to others.  At Brown School, for example, parents are often surprised at how delighted their children are when provided the opportunity to engage in community service or in helping others in need.