Today while writing this blog I heard my first Christmas song of the year. It’s official– the holidays are upon us.

There are aspects of this season I love, like the palpable joy in the air, the wonder and excitement in the eyes of children, and spending quality time with my loved ones. Then there’s the craziness aka the mad dash till January 1st. There’s obligatory holiday parties, lengthy shopping lists, the frenetic, “I’ve got to get my _____ right now” energy that seems to permeate everywhere you go.

At a time when many of us would prefer to be relaxing in our living room drinking a cup of hot cocoa, quietly contemplating the year passing and the new year ahead, we often find ourselves overwhelmed and feeling “off”.

Finding Calm in the Holiday Craziness

Be the eye of the storm.

Try these practices to help you to move through the holiday waves (or any other busy time) with calm and ease.

Belly (Diaphragmatic) Breathe

Diaphragmatic breathing sends the message to the body that everything is A-OK. No matter the stressor, if you begin breathing in this way, you will relax and be able to think more clearly. You’ll find your stress-induced tight neck and shoulders release, that anxious feeling in your chest dissipate, and the butterflies in your stomach go away.

Running late and stuck in traffic?

Worried about how you will successfully accomplish a gazillion things?

Breathe continuously, anywhere and everywhere. It’s free and won’t take any time out of your day. If anything, you’ll feel like you get time back.

There’s science behind it too. Diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and rebalances cortisol levels. In other words, it rewires the stress reflex.

Learn how to belly breathe here, or by coming in for an office visit.

Find Your Feet—Get Grounded
Tai Qi, Qi gong masters and yogis have known the secret of grounding for eons.

What is grounding?
Grounding is the practice of aligning with gravity, the force that governs our planet.

Sounds like a good idea, right?
Very much so. When we align with gravity our cells are charged with vitality, and our body, mind and spirit integrated.

Practicing with bare feet is helpful in the beginning though it is not a requirement. To practice grounding pay attention to two things—your diaphragmatic breath and the downward moving energy (gravity).

If you’re bare footed, you can bring more awareness to the downward moving energy by focusing your attention to your feet. Feel the sensation under your feet. Are you standing on grass? Dirt? Sand?
How does it feel? Which parts of your foot can you feel touching the earth?

Each time your mind wanders on to a different subject, bring it back to your subject of attention— your belly breath, the downward moving energy and any sensation you may be feeling.

Be Fully Present (wherever you are, whatever you’re doing)

It’s hard– I won’t lie to you. And epic to-do lists around the holidays make it even harder. Check it out- are you fully present right now, reading this article? Is your mind focused on what you’re reading or are you thinking about a dozen other things?

Please don’t beat yourself up if you noticed that your mind was making dinner plans or trying to solve your latest work issue in the background. Noticing that you’re not present is the first step to getting present.

A wandering, distracted mind is a cause of stress that perpetuates more stress. It has a snowball effect. Do your best to get off the wheel.

When you notice that your mind is somewhere other than the present moment, bring it back to the here and now.

Take a deep belly breathe.
Awaken your senses.
Look at your environment.
Smell the air.
Listen to the sounds.

What absolutely needs to get done today? This week? This month?

When you’re under the gun, don’t give yourself more jobs that you truly need to do.

December may not be the time for you to do the five projects around the house that have been irking you for months. Be your own best friend.

The weight you choose to put on your shoulders is just that, your own choice. Choose
wisely. . Say no to invitations or commitments that feel like they’re too much or that you don’t want to sign up for.