How to Keep Your Cool During the Holidays

For a lot of people the holidays can be stressful. Extra expenses, jam packed schedules, travel, holiday shopping and parties lead to over stimulation - and this throws off our balance.

During the holidays it's easy to lose track of the things that contribute to our overall happiness. It’s also easy to take on additional things that throw off routines, relationships and environment. This can leave us feeling overwhelmed and over stimulated. We finally stumble out of the holidays in January feeling like a hot mess and needing a month to recover. 

When the holiday hoopla starts to feel like too much: Practice. When the days seems impossibly short and cold: Practice. When you are sure you are going to be on the naughty list: Practice. When everyone is getting on your last nerve: Practice. When you are tired, feel bloated, partied too much, spent too much money: Practice.

 When things get tough, like they always will, this is what you should do: Practice.

 Practice Yoga: Keep a regular routine during the holiday. A change in your normal routine can contribute to more stress. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, in my mind, is about maintaining a practice not transforming one. Modify if needed and let your practice support you during the hoopla. Set yourself up in December to turn it up in January. Read my holiday practice tips if you are struggling to fit it in.

Practice Saying No: The key to not feeling like a stressed out mess during the holiday season is learning how to say “yes” to the right things and “no” to the wrong things. Don’t take on more than you can handle. It’s fine to say no to some invitations and favors. Remember, this is your holiday too.

Practice Self Care: Be good to yourself - whatever that means for you. This could be getting enough sleep, working-out, eating healthy, scheduling leisure or alone time, or saying no to favors. Remember, you can be there for yourself just like you are for everyone else.

Practice Acting with Intention: A lot of holiday difficulties are predictable. Before you go into any situation - be it a holiday party, a checkout line or the post office - ask yourself who do you want to be in this situation? What is your intention and desired outcome? And act from there.

Practice Asking for Help: from everyone who is part of your holiday. Even if the help you need is emotional support.

Practice Moderation: It’s easy to overindulge with food and drink at holiday parties and special dinners. We are often surviving off of straight sugar or whatever we can grab the fastest. Overeating cannot only lead to feelings of guilt, but also to a lack of energy. Plus, who has time for a hangover?!

Practice Calming Techniques: When you see signs of stress or if you feel like you are going to implode, take a moment to practice calming techniques. You can do this at a busy shopping mall, or step outside for a moment at a family function, or even sitting traffic. You don’t need a meditation cushion and an altar to take a few minutes to center yourself. If you have time and place to meditate, awesome. If you don’t , just breathe deeply for a few moments and shift your consciousness.

Practice Letting Go: We often get catch up in the trap of perfection and the holidays is a time of year when this is even more likely to happen. We want the perfect tree, to find the perfect gift for loved ones, to look perfect for parties, to cook perfect meals. This not only makes the holiday feel less joyful, but it also sets us up for disappointment. 

Practice Reflecting: Its easy to get caught up in the commercial version of the holiday season and the consumption that goes with it. Take time to reflect on what truly matters to you and appreciate the magnificence of our simple existence and a realization of how spectacular this life is.

Remember, things will work out somehow, they almost always do. Everything will get done, and if they don’t that will be ok too. And in the meantime do what keeps you sane: Practice.

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