If one of the emotions you feel this holiday season is stress, then here is a list of ideas to combat that stress and make the most of your celebrations. Many of the suggestions below are related to breathing. Focusing on your breathing is the quickest and easiest way to help regulate your feelings of stress. It also helps you get more oxygen to the brain so you can think clearer and feel more in charge of your emotional response. 

 What To Do

Deep Breath

Take a deep breath. Hold it for about three seconds. Let it out all at once (letting it out with a sigh helps). As you let it out, let your jaw relax, your shoulders relax and think “calm.” Let your teeth remain slightly apart.

Release Tension

Start by tightening your muscles and creating a tense feeling throughout your body. Then do this in individual areas on your body. Tense your feet, your calves, your thighs, your stomach and back. Clench your jaw and close your eyelids tight. Hold these muscles tense for about five seconds. Then feel the sweet relief as you let the tension leave your body.

Cool Air In, Warm Air Out

With your eyes closed, shift your attention to the tip of your nose. As you breath in, become aware of the air entering your nostrils. As you breath out, be aware of the sensation of the air leaving your nostrils. Notice that the air you breath in tends to be cooler than the air you breath out. As you do this think continue to be aware of cool air in, warm air out.

Breathing Tension Away

Gently focus your attention to your feet. As you take in a slow, deep breath, imagine collecting all the tension in your feet and legs, breathing that tension into your lungs and expelling them as you exhale. With a second deep breath, collect all the tension in your trunk, arms, and hands and expel that. Take a third deep breath, collect and expel all the tension in your shoulders, neck, face and head. With practice you can learn to expel all of your tension with one deep breath.

Equalized Breathing

Take four seconds to breath in and six seconds to breath out. Count slowly as you inhale and exhale. Do this five times as you count to yourself.

Ideal Relaxation

With your eyes closed, take a moment to create in your mind’s eye an ideal spot for relaxation. You can make it any place, real or imagined. Feel the comfort of wearing what, and how much, you have on in you ideal spot. Consider who is with you, or if you are alone. Once created, you can return there when you need to relax.


Research has shown that if we don’t feel like smiling but we do, we eventually begin to believe that we really want to smile. Smiling at your own troubles and smiling at at other people can be very relaxing. When you smile, let your eyes sparkle.

Happy holidays!