There is so much we want to do during a vacation. We want to recover, have quality time with the family, and finally do those things that we don't have time for in our everyday work life. Yes, the list is long and the expectations for a holiday are often high. BUT there are ways to make the time better and enjoy the holiday more.

The effects of Conscious Listening with Mindfulness

Mindful listening can be a powerful way to both enjoy the moment and take care of your mental health. Known by many names, Mindful listening or variants of it, is also called active listening, Mindful listening, Mindful conversations which originates from the Mindfulness tradition.

By being present in the conversation, you can build stronger and more meaningful relationships with family and friends. Give the person your full attention and show that you really care about what they are sharing. Being fully present in the moment when you are talking to someone helps to activate the body's calming system and lower stress levels. And maybe you've heard of Affect Contagion. This means that your feelings of calmness and security rub off on the people you are talking to. Nice va❣️

Mindful listening is also a type of mental training that strengthens impulse control and your mental resilience. Practicing mindful listening is so-called informal mindfulness training. The brain's attentional center Anterior cingulate cortex is strengthened and physical changes occur in the brain - Neuroplasticity is so cool!


How to practice Conscious Listening?

- Focus entirely on the person speaking, instead of being distracted by other thoughts or events, or worse, doing something else while listening.
- Try to be aware of what is happening inside you. Aware of your own thoughts and with an intention to listen with curiosity and avoid judging. To enter this mental state, I myself take a conscious breath and let my whole body and mind land and relax, like before a warm bath or a hug from a child.
- Show that you are listening by making eye contact, nodding to confirm that you understand.
- Avoid the trap of planning what to say while listening. Allow the person to complete their thoughts before formulating your response.
- Listen with compassion. This contributes to better communication and can minimize misunderstandings.
- Be aware of every aspect of the experience in order to enjoy and appreciate the moment. By being fully present during the conversation with another person, you can deepen your experience of the moments.

- I try to avoid my personal trap by letting my curious mind formulate a follow-up question rather than falling into the trap of giving advice, opinions or referring to my own experiences. (Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not. 🙂 But as the priest said to me and my husband before our wedding "It can't be wrong, just a little different").

Using mindful listening during vacations with family and friends can both increase the enjoyment of the vacation and strengthen your mental health through deeper relationships. Good luck!

Caroline Spanners