The holiday season brings joy, happiness and often stress. There is no better time to practice mindfulness so that you can be present to manage the ups and downs of this busy season.

Mindful awareness is at the heart of Whole Health, and it can help you to be more present to living your life more fully.

In general, mindful awareness may:

  • Improve your quality of life, helping you experience more moments of your life
  • Help you see things as they are and observe – but not judge – your experiences
  • Support your overall health, pain management, stress management, reduction of inflammation, and more

Mindfulness is an intentional and non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation based on the concept of being mindful, which is simply having increased awareness of the present. Breath awareness and body scan meditations are examples of mindfulness meditations.

You can start, or restart, your practice informally with simple activities in your daily life, such as stopping to notice how you feel physically and mentally. Perhaps pay attention to the feeling of the water on your hands as you wash dishes, or stop to notice the birds chirping, or the smell of the trees or the wood burning in your fireplace. It is helpful to approach these daily tasks with curiosity and a “beginners mind.” You can also use mindful awareness to help explore what really matters to you.

In this brief video, Greg Serpa, Ph.D. and Christiane Wolf, M.D., Ph.D. from Greater Los Angeles VA Health Care System, and leaders of the VA CALM Mindfulness protocol, talk about four simple ways to cultivate mindfulness. The tactics they review to help achieve mindfulness include:

  1. Grounding
  2. The S.T.O.P. acronym (Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed)
  3. Anchor phrases
  4. The 3 P’s (Pause, become Present, Proceed)

For more information and resources on Mindful Awareness, visit:

Use these seven tips to de-stress during the holidays and year-round: Seven Ways to Manage Stress during the Holidays – Veterans Health Administration (

The National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Healthy Living website includes additional mindfulness meditation recordings and other tools for managing and reducing stress, such as the Manage Stress Workbook:

By Alison M. Whitehead, MPH, C-IAYT is the program lead for the Integrative Health Coordinating Center in the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

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Published on Dec. 6, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2 min.

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