How to save your mental health in winter

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We all are experiencing our highs and lows in December and January — the most glorious and stressful time of the year.

To handle the stress and find a way to enjoy the holiday bustle, we talked with Walter, our Head of Mindfulness, to find out his thoughts and conclusions.
That's what he said:

"The holiday season ideally is a wonderful time of serenity and rest, but often can also become a hectic and chaotic period of the year, frequently overfilled with personal and family commitment, travel with all its pandemic-times complexities, conclusion of work activities and tasks whilst simultaneously preparing for the imminent restart in the new year.

Additionally, there is an important emotive component to this period, whether we realize it or not; we measure the passing of time in years, and thus the ending of one and beginning of the next is a moment of reflection, understanding, stocktaking, learning and hopefully growing with the lessons of the past year to be applied in the one ahead, which offers a new beginning filled with opportunities as well as uncertainties.

To utilize this period effectively, enjoying the serenity and rest it traditionally promises as well as achieving some meaningful and positive reflections, we should make sure to be mindful of a few simple principles.

Firstly, the word holidays and rest don't have to be synonymous with overindulgence. Celebrating and enjoying gatherings and traditions is wonderful, but try to do so in balance and thus avoiding frequent excesses with food, alcohol, noise and sleeplessness; there is no need for privation, in fact quite the opposite is absolutely fine occasionally, just do so not too often and not too much. Similarly, it's important to continue the healthy behaviors we usually benefit from, be it regular exercise, meditation, sufficient sleep and anything else we do to feel well through the year, otherwise a few weeks without such habits can undo months of prior work, as well making them less habitual, with the risk of not resuming them in the new year or of needing much more discipline and effort than necessary.

Secondly, give yourself some time for self reflection on the year past and the one ahead. I suggest simply contemplating from the "macro" events to the "micro" moments; the mind itself will naturally bring into its focus key points, experiences, successes, failures, doubts, lessons, ideas, hopes and much more. Writing reflections by pen on paper is a very powerful practice, whether just a phrase or many pages, to then put the writings away and return to them after a few days, for the next step in the reflection process. I can assure you that you will likely be amazed by the depth of your conscious and subconscious revelations, and the power of your own conclusions and vision ahead.

Lastly, let go. Let go of what might not have been ideal or what might seem uncertain. Let go of the tyranny of past and future, to dedicate this transitional time, which metaphorically sits right between past and future, between the year ending and the next beginning, to focus entirely on the present, making each day and every holiday experience as positive and serene as possible, whenever possible sharing such "in the moment" positivity and serenity with your loved ones.

You will have a whole new year journey ahead: arrive at its beginning with your maximum energy, clarity and joy!"

Be caring about yourself and be well. And remember — we are always here to support you :)

Head of Mindfulness at Palta, Shaolin Temple secular monk
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