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Dear Stress: I locked the door.

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This holiday season, let’s leave that annoying stress at the front door shall we?

As November comes to an end, and we approach the December holidays, its hard not to fall into conditional patterns of thinking based on cultural and social traditions. I consistently seem to want to ‘do it all’ over the holiday season and this has caused me a lot of unnecessary stress.

This year I am going to listen to my intuition. This year, I am not going to push myself until my body aches.

To keep healthy and happy (regardless the time of year), I am learning to leave my mindless, poor, habitual behaviors at the front door!

Ellen Langer, Harvard University Professor of Psychology, often writes in her publications, that it’s important to be mindful. We must not follow routine and other automatic behaviours that lead to pain and a predetermined course of life. She writes, “Much of our unhappiness comes from ‘myths of own making’ and ‘that rules and standards are decisions made by others and can be rewritten.”

So, how do we stay mindful in our own chaos?
Simply focus on process over outcome (virtually not creating it!).

Langer also believes we can avoid negative impacts on our business and social relationships by being aware of our habits of thought, and by focusing on process. To be mindful, she notes, “Allows free rein to intuition and creativity, and opens us to new information and perspective.” We learn to think outside of our patterns, and act accordingly.

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Our patterns are our belief systems.

Let’s say a disabled person or aging person suffers from a mindset of learned helplessness, which is often proposed by culture and society. This belief system is going to affect their health and predetermine their quality of life.

In, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, Langer says, “Over time I have come to believe less and less that biology determines destiny. If the mind is in a healthy place, the body will be too.” Twitter_blue

An empowered mindset around disability, aging or anything that has predestine negative associations, leads to a healthy outcome. That being said, I have found that in addition to practicing mindfulness of my body and poor habits, I have been able to cultivate a healthy practice of reflection.

Paying more attention to all other aspects in my life has enriched me deeply, specifically my spirituality. I have come to experience an understanding. I believe that the ‘ultimate good’ seen in something greater than oneself (such as God) can be experienced through nature, random acts of kindness and the wonder of prayer. For me, spiritual mindfulness has also led to my physical healing.

Whether you are adjusting to a physical loss, or taking on new challenges and managing stress, beginning your journey with the right mindset can go a long way.

Happy Holidays.

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