How To Savor the Holidays and Not Stress Them

The holidays can be stressful for many of us. Not only do we tend to be over scheduled with celebrations - we can find ourselves with family members that don't exactly bring out the best in us. How do we stay steady and empowered and avoid the need for a vacation from our vacation? How can we stay connected to our practice when we are our of our daily rhythm? Here are 5 tips to keep you steady and truly joyful through the holiday season.

1.  Practice moderation in food and in drink. Drink more water than wine. Oh those holiday parties are FUN! Wine is flowing and it is soooo easy to have more than your usual... and then you wake up the next day and you are cranky pants. No one likes a cranky pants, least of all the cranky one so moderate your intake of sweets and spirits.

2.  Find space and silence for yourself. At least 10 minutes a day and hiding in the bathroom is totally cool (I do it all the time). The aim is to get our of your head - get space in between your thoughts. Find a quiet place, lock the door and close your eyes. Take some deep breaths and observe your breath and how you feel in your body. Observe yourself. Be with yourself; honestly and compassionately. Good is not the only valid feeling; so feel how you feel. Begin to focus your mind on the words "I AM". Inhale the sound "I' and exhale the sound "AM". Let this be your mantra. I AM. Let this be your refuge. 10 minutes a day; this is all you need. Because you may have in your mind "I am a mother (father)", "I am a wife (husband)", "I am a daughter (son)", I am a sister (sister)", but all you need to be is yourself. In every moment. Be exactly who you are. "I AM" is enough.

3.  Practice forgiveness. Forgive yourself for whatever you are mentally scolding yourself for. Forgive your family for being whatever they are that triggers you. Forgive yourself and everyone else because we are all in our own story doing our best.

4.  Practice gratitude. What you put your attention on expands – notice this. Are you focusing on what you don't have? How does that make you feel? Likely, not good. Focus on what you have – focus on all that is good and beautiful in your life. Notice how this moves your entire experience of life toward joy.

5.  Let go of expectations.  Sometimes we build things up in our minds so big then when the reality arrives, it is disappointing.  All year we look forward to the holidays, time off, time with family...whatever.  Let go of everything you thought this time would be (good or bad) and just experience what IS.  And when you find yourself having trouble with this (and we all do) - come back to tips 2, 3 & 4 especially and practice those).

Above all - Love and be Loved.  Happiest of all holidays to everyone!