Try not to eat and drink to the point that wearing pants becomes painful. Don’t leave all your holiday shopping til the last minute and don’t bring up politics with your uncle. Some holiday stressors are easy to avoid. Others require more thought and planning. Here are some simple things you can do to help yourself stay chill from now til the new year.
1. Schedule Some Quiet Time
Running from malls to grocery stores to dinners to cocktail parties is exhausting. When you have a million things to do, it’s easy to let your commitment to 'me time' slide - but that's exactly when you need it the most. Skip it and you'll feel frazzled and frayed.
Make time for rest.
Picture this: You, curled up on the couch under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and a juicy novel. Or you lying on the floor in savasana for 30 minutes.
You don’t have to say yes to every social invitation. So don't. Schedule time for activities that nourish you and foster your ability to show up in the world as a patient, loving, kind human being. That's a gift that benefits everyone.
2. Meditate While You Wait
Send Metta (loving-kindness) to the man ahead of you in the check-out line holding everyone up while he requests a price check, and to the mom that is losing her mind while her toddler has a meltdown in Aisle 3. And don't forget your cashier. They will definitely need your good vibes too.
As you wait in line, pick out strangers and mentally direct kind and loving thoughts towards them:
"May you be safe, may you be peaceful, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from suffering and its causes, may you know your heart’s true joy.”
Practicing metta expands your capacity to be a radiant source of friendliness, love and compassion. Turn on your love light and let it shine on everyone.
3. Move Your Body
When stress and anxiety show up your body generates a tremendous amount of energy in preparation for 'fight or flight'. Burn up some of that excess energy with movement. Try some Sun Salutations paired with Ujjayi breathing. Movement is a natural way to combat stress and tension.
You can take long, slow, deep exhalations anytime, anywhere in any situation - without anyone ever knowing. Nervous about a gathering? Triggered by an inappropriate comment? Left alone to clean up the kitchen after dinner? Before you explode, take a pause and breathe deeply. Calm your nervous system and get centered before responding.
Inhale: Count to 4
Exhale: Count to 8
5. Transport Yourself With Chanting
Instead of worrying about office politics and inappropriate co-workers on your drive to the company holiday party, chant. Repeating a mantra is an incredibly effective way to transport your mind to a peaceful place and cut through anxiety-inducing mental chatter.
Chanting OM turns off your amygdala (the part of your brain associated with fear and stress). Get in your car, turn up your favourite OM track and chant your way into the zen zone in time for the party. Here's one of my fave OM chants to chill out to.