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Handling Stress of Holidays Past, Present, and Future

We asked our team of certified mindfulness instructors how they lean on their training as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season approaches. Even experts need to rely on the core principals of mindfulness during particularly hectic times. Social-emotional wellness of our mind is like any muscle in our body that can become fatigued, then strengthened with consistent awareness of the present moment. Being present is the best gift we can give ourselves, especially as 2020 comes to a close...

"Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas carols are already playing in stores. With every playing of Jingle Bells, I begin to notice the stress in my body rising. Tightness in my shoulders and reaching for any (gluten-free) sweet that I can find.

What should be a peaceful time of year is often taken over by my worry of purchasing the perfect present, having the house decorated like a scene for a Hallmark movie, and getting Christmas cards out before New Years.

I get caught in the mental trap of “the comparing mind.” This picture-perfect image of the holidays displayed on my social media feeds and in TV advertisements and songs. All filled with expectations of how life should be and rarely gets met for long. Through the practice of mindfulness, I am becoming more aware of when my “comparing mind” creeps in and offering myself compassion. I am beginning to let go of my attachment to expectations and experiencing the holidays just as they are."



"When the holiday season begins, there’s a buzz of excitement in the air. We look forward to the traditions, the food, and time with family and friends. There’s also another kind of buzz in the air…stress.

Stress has become part of our holiday tradition. There’s so much to do and no time to do it all: planning, decorating, shopping, cooking, traveling – sometimes we get so wrapped up in the “have-to’s” of the holiday season that we miss a lot of the enjoyment. We seem to have just accepted that the holidays are stressful, and then move into the season with that expectation.

Yes, life does get a bit busier this time of year, but if we head into the holidays with the resolution that we’re going to be stressed about it, then we will be stressed about it. So, here is what I started doing a few years ago to make the holidays feel less like a list of chores and more fun and magical:

  1. Mindset check and gratitude. Instead of “all this stuff I have to do,” reframe it to “all this stuff I get to do”. Gratitude for friends and family (past and present) and how they’ve touched my life. Full awareness of all the abundance in my life.

  2. Simplify. Take a look at some of the tasks you typically engage in and see what you can weed out or make simpler. If that cookie exchange has you anxious and tense every year, is it worth it?

  3. Find mindful moments. Practice pausing throughout each day to notice the joy and beauty of this time of year: quietly watching the twinkling lights, eating yummy food, listening to favorite holiday songs. These moments are what it’s truly all about. Happy Holidays!"


"As the days start to get colder and night settles in earlier, winter gently reminds us of its presence. For many, the colder seasons and holidays can be a hard time for many and this year may be the most challenging due to a global pandemic. While my stress usually surrounds finding gifts that my family will enjoy and supporting local businesses, this year I find myself worrying less about the consumer aspect of the holidays but instead how we make the holidays special without our normal gatherings and traditions.

I recently asked my kids what their favorite holidays was and my twelve year old daughter answered Thanksgiving because she loves being at my sister-n-law’s home with all her cousins and family. With COVID cases rising, we need to ask ourselves how do we connect and celebrate with our loved ones and still keep our communities safe. Hoping for continued mild weather that would make outdoor gatherings possible, I still find tightness and clenching in my shoulders and neck even while writing this. I think the constant risk assessment we have all been doing and continue to do has its consequences on our emotional and mental well-being. There have been no care-free or spontaneous decisions in the last nine months only well thought out plans with careful considerations, so the idea of planning holidays seems to be an exhausting and daunting task.

When I articulate my stress about the holidays in that way, I realize that letting go of any expectations or holding on to traditions speaks to concepts of impermanence and change. These are two of the hardest lessons that mindfulness continues to teach me. It is in these challenges, I find myself trying to hold on tighter and control more. With that being said I am going to set an intention for myself this holiday season, I am going to give my loved ones my presence and express my gratitude for them by writing them all a letter. It is a way I can still spread cheer and love even if from afar."


Mindful movement, art, breathing and walking are just SOME of the practices you can use to make 2020 a memorable year for all the right reasons! We have videos and resources to help you do that on our website, YouTube, SoundCloud and through the Creating Calm, Together program. These FREE tools are our gift to you this year! Enjoy.

>>>Please consider making a donation to support our mission of teaching social-emotional resiliency through the practice of mindfulness, and don't forget to make Shanthi Project your charity of choice when shopping with!<<<


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