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How to De-Stress During the Holidays

by Laura Beans

According to the American Psychological Association, eight out of 10 Americans anticipate heightened stress levels during the holiday season. And it's easy to see why--the pressures are numerous this time of year: shopping, cooking, parties, and even family (dynamics perhaps tempered by distance) can wear on even the most mellow.

Sometimes holiday stress can manifest itself in unhealthy ways, such as overeating or disrupted sleep. Don't forget about yourself this Yuletide season. Read on for expert tips on managing stress levels and keeping yourself healthy.


“Balancing poses seem to be more of a struggle this time of year,” says April Jones, owner of Yoga Central in La Quinta, CA. “The tree poses and standing balances are a little more wobbly than usual, which makes perfect sense since there is so much juggling going on.”

Here, Jones shares with us a short restorative yoga sequence to provide stillness and focus, and “leave you feeling invigorated and ready to tackle the holiday hoopla.”

Begin seated.

With the right leg outstretched, take the head to knee for a forward fold.

Transition into Deer pose by bending the right knee and swinging it around behind you, with your heel to your hip.

Repeat with left leg.

Transition into Downward Dog pose.

Shift to Plank pose and slowly lower to the floor.

Move into Locust pose by bringing arms along side the body and lifting legs, chest, shoulders and arms simultaneously, reaching back towards your feet.

While still lifted, gradually bring arms overhead into “Superman” pose.

Lower to the ground and push back into Child’s pose.

Transition back to Downward Dog

Slowly roll up one vertebrae at a time to Mountain Pose.

Sweep the arms overhead and take a side stretch by pulling the opposite wrist.

“This sequence gets the spine moving in all six directions, and stretches the hips and hamstrings,” says Jones. “It’s just a nod to all the tender areas without a huge time commitment or strenuous effort.”


Mary Beth Janssen, seasoned author and certified mind-body health educator for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, says, "Remember to breathe!"

"It's important to realize that the stress or chaos swirling around you may not go away," Janssen continues. "But you have this incredible tool called diaphragmatic breathing that can shift you out of stress mode and into the relaxation response part of your nervous system within a minute."

For a short meditation, in keeping with the spirit of the season, Janssen shares the following breathing exercise for reflection and stress relief.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

In a comfortable, stable position with your eyes closed, bring your awareness to your breath and repeat the following phrases:

May I be well.

May I be happy and content.

May I be free from danger and suffering.

May I be filled with loving-kindness.

May you be well.

May you be happy and content.

May you be free from danger and suffering.

May you be filled with loving-kindness.

May all beings be well.

May all beings be happy and content.

May all beings be free from danger and suffering.

May all beings be filled with loving-kindness.

Repeat if time allows.

Janssen also recommends the So-Hum meditation, a short, simple practice that helps disrupted sleep, high blood pressure and more. "'So-hum means 'I am'," she explains. "'So' on your inhale and 'hum' on your exhale, making your breathing exhalation twice as long as your inhalation."

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