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How to Overcome Stress Over the Holidays

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The holidays are a time where we can recognize and appreciate the beautiful people in our lives. Families and friends make time to get together and it can also be a time to reflect on the past year. However, many of us may find it stressful dealing with all the activities and crowds. Stay calm this season by taking the following steps:

1. Get some physical exercise.
Physical exercise is a great way to strengthen your immune system and elevate your mood. It is not uncommon to have feelings of loneliness during this time, especially if you are away from those closest to you. You can also exercise with others in the community, e.g., at your local yoga studio or gym.

2. Stay regular with your meditations.
This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. If meditation is something new to you, try sitting with your eyes closed for 5-10 minutes every morning and evening. Bring your awareness to your physical body and notice any areas of tension. Deepen your breath and visualize releasing the tension with each one of your exhales.

3. Forgo exchanging gifts.
If you had a similar childhood as mine where you grew up watching television and commercials, you have probably been engrained to believe that happiness comes from things outside yourself. A new piece of jewelry, a watch, clothes, etc. may bring an instant moment of joy but after a week or so, the initial feeling is gone and you're left with searching again for that fleeting moment of happiness. Think back on your past holidays. Do you remember the gifts you received or the people you spent it with? Instead of purchasing gifts for your friends and family, invite them over to your place for a meal. If that sounds even more stressful than shopping for gifts, throw a potluck!

4. Avoid excess sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
It is much easier to consume more when you are mingling. Be mindful of what you take in and when. A big piece of chocolate cake at 10 p.m. or that glass of port right before bedtime may keep you up at night.

5. Get a minimum of 6-8 hours of restful sleep each night.
Sleep is the most healing thing you can do for your body and mind. Avoid stimulating activities right before bed. If you find that your mind is busy, download your thoughts onto a journal. Let them go so you're not obsessing over them during the night.

6. Be a karma yogi.
Donate your time to a local charity, nursing home or shelter. In helping others, you'll find that you've actually just helped yourself.

Namaste and Happy Holidays!