With less than three weeks until Christmas, many of us are starting to feel the pressure: Which presents do I still need to buy? Did I bake enough cookies for all the neighbors? What should I bring to the holiday party? In fact, 32 percent of Rewire Me readers report feeling stressed during the holidays, according to our annual holiday survey. While stress may seem unavoidable, you can lessen it with a few simple meditation tricks.
Many of our readers are already on the right track, saying they plan to meditate more to reduce holiday season stress. Until I started exploring mindfulness and meditation, I didn't know how to begin dealing with the stressors in my life. But twelve years ago, I attended a three-day lecture by the Dalai Lama and learned that meditation is something within us. It's a state of being that we can teach ourselves, and if we choose, we can become it, 24 hours a day. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a calm and peaceful state of mind amid the shopping crowds, and while cooking or traveling? Try these three tips to get through the holiday season with your sanity intact:
1. Take four deep, cleansing breaths.
Close your eyes. Then, slowly inhale and exhale four times. When your thoughts start to wander, keep coming back to your breath. By the third breath, you will feel your heart begin to slow, stillness calming it to a sweet comfort level. The beauty of deep breathing is that you can do it anywhere -- whether you are standing in line at the store or putting the final touches on a three-course meal before the relatives arrive.
2. Envision what you want to achieve.
In the morning, plan how you want your day to turn out. Then, before you go to bed, reflect on how your day went. Decide whether it was positive or negative, and ask yourself if there's anything you would like to do differently. Try this, for example, before spending time with family. Set an intention to be fully engaged and present when you are with your loved ones, instead of worrying about unfinished deadlines at work or whether or not Great Aunt Mary noticed you forgot to dust.
3. Let go of expectation.
Understand that meditation doesn't have to take more than five minutes of your day. If you can find time for one minute, that's an accomplishment! During this season when we're busy running errands and making party appearances, any moments of peace you can steal will benefit your overall well-being! Meditation doesn't have to mean chanting "om" on a mat with your legs crossed -- sometimes it can just be a few calming, deep breaths or some time alone, relaxing to a favorite song.
Remember to take care of yourself during the holidays -- something I still have to remind myself to do! So often we get caught up in buying presents, baking, and RSVPing that we lose sight of the beauty of uninterrupted time with family and friends. Time with loved ones is a gift -- don't waste it feeling stressed!