Photo: Sean O’Donoghue

The holiday season is upon us again and although many of you are filled with the excitement and joy at what comes with this time of year, others find it to be a time of apprehension, stress, and unhappiness. For anyone in the latter group, I wrote the book,

Surviving the Holidays: 12 meditations to keep you sane and cheerful 

The first edition is still out on Kindle and as an e-book. The second edition is in the works right now.

Getting ready for the holidays? Are you excited, hopeful or just wanting the holidays to be over and done with as soon as possible?

I see you.

With so many lists, family dynamics, wants, and needs to take care of, at times it feels like an epic military campaign involving strategies and plays that would impress even the most distinguished of generals.

We roll up our sleeves and battle through to-do lists, long lines at stores, fatigue, and burn the midnight oil. The level of focus required to buy the right gifts, white elephants and maintain a happy demeanour can be too much.

This pressure causes our bodies to squeeze, releasing stress hormones. The body interprets all this as a threat to its life. Pretty intense reaction to simply shopping for food and decorating a tree, right? Well, it is what it is and without solid techniques to relax, it won’t be fun.

Today, I want to share a couple of techniques that will help you ease into and sail through the season of giving.

If you are starting to feel a tightness or ache in your neck and shoulders, or if the full weight of all those things you have to do has already begun to overwhelm you, here are 2 easy steps to bring relief and energize your day.

1a Say it out loud – clearly state what you are feeling. Frustrated? Tired? Feeling it’s unfair ie why do I have to do everything? Anxious, sad or isolated? It’s important to locate what we are feeling in the vast ocean of emotions. By locating and identifying what we are feeling we can orient ourselves and find our way home. If we don’t know where we are and what’s happening within us we can’t turn things around. Say it out loud. Write it down. It’ll feel better, I promise.

1b Say what you want – “I want to feel peaceful, this holiday for the family gets together.” “I want to feel exhilarated.” “I want to have some magical moments.” Take some time to contemplate what you would like to experience over the holidays and prioritize creating these experiences for yourself. If going for a walk makes you feel peaceful add those to your calendar. If you want to feel exhilarated add a snowball fight or an adventure that opens your eyes and heart to your list of activities. Make it happen. You know you can.

2 It’s bigger than you are – it’s ok to admit that it’s bigger than you are, that you can’t control it all and that you want to give up. Take a moment, sit down, sigh and place your forehead on the floor. In yoga, this is known as the child’s pose. It is a restful pose that releases stress.

When I do this pose, I let go and surrender to the universe all the responsibilities, fears and anxieties I carry. I admit that I cannot do it all. A feeling of humility comes over me that helps me reprioritize what’s truly important to me and what I want to achieve in that moment. It opens the possibility of my intentions to match my actions. I love the clarity that arises with this pose.

And finally, remember this is a time to enjoy some days off and to give yourself time to rest, play and love!

Here’s to you, my dear family and friends, I send you joy, blessings and sweet, delicious, love.