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mindfulness practices to help you this holiday season

Sometimes the holidays are stressful. Even as a child, I could only handle so much family time, gift-giving, lights, cameras, ACTION! You see where I'm going - sometimes the holidays are just too much to handle. That's why I have started to incorporate some of these small, very effective practices into my daily routine. The holiday season should be joyful, not stressful. By utilizing these practices, I hope that you can bring that joy back into the holidays and be more present over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

  1. Bunny Breathing - Find a spot to sit. Relax your body as much as you can. Put your palms together, like you are saying "thank you" and position your hands right in the middle of your chest. This should cause your elbows to stick out to the side and for your arms and shoulds to form into a triangle. Take a deep breath in through your nose and hold in for a few seconds. Breath out as slowly as possible while at the same time hissing like a snake. Do this 2 or three times and feel yourself become more relaxed. The science behind this is fascinating, You are actually controlling your adrenal gland and slowing the release of nasty hormones like cortisol and excess adrenaline.

  2. Tap Tap Color - This is a meditating activity. Find a quiet place to sit (even if it is the bathroom or in the car). Relax your body as much as you can. Look around the room and try to notice how your body is feeling. You might be very stressed or anxious. Your thoughts might be buzzing. This is all fine. Close your eyes. With your eyes closed, cross your arms in front of your chest so that your hands rest on the opposite shoulder. Slowly, start taping your hands on your shoulder, switching off left, right, left, right. Find a nice rhythm. Think about this rhythm and start to feel your mind relax. Stick with the tapping until you do not have to think so hard about making your hands tap. Once you are tapping fairly automatically, stop tapping, open your eyes and observe the room. Call out (either out loud or in your mind), the first 10 colors you see. You will notice that as you get to number 6 or 7, it becomes more work to find new colors. That is okay. It's also okay if you do not identify all 10. This practice helps to reset and relax your mind so you can rejoin that party.

  3. Coloring Or Doodling - I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it really works. Again, find a quiet spot. This time, it does not have to be where you can be by yourself. Assembly any materials you would like to use - crayons, markers, coloring pages, graph paper, a pen - and just start coloring. The act of focusing on coloring and doodling helps to reset our minds by being productive and goal-oriented. I like to pick a shape and cover an entire piece of paper with that same shape of different sizes. I also like to set restrictions for myself, such as only using primary colors, or coloring in order of the rainbow. By giving yourself permission to do something as primitive as coloring and doodling, you are giving yourself permission to stop and be.

Good luck and happy holidays!

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