How to Stay Sane During the Holidays

Put these meditation tips into practice to clear your head, reduce stress, and feel better--fast.

How to Stay Sane During the Holidays

If the holidays are already making you feel frazzled, overwhelmed, and exhausted, we have a solution. It's free, easily accessible, and will give you more energy and piece of mind. Meditate every morning, suggests meditation expert Dina Kaplan, founder of The Path, a place that teaches ancient meditation in a modern way.

"I think on the days I meditate for 20 minutes in the morning I'm five times more productive," she says. "Meditation gives you the power to ask yourself, 'Is this the most important thing I should be doing?' throughout the day." You'll be more likely to complete the most important things you want to do get done that day so you're not just being responsive to everything that's coming at you.

Kaplan's morning meditation process involves a run or yoga session, followed by drinking coffee and writing out the list of things she wants to do that day, and then sitting in a meditation for about 20 minutes. "Your meditation will stimulate your mind that's activated by your to-do list." As you ponder your daily list, that thing you’ve forgotten about that you need to get done will pop in your head. Meditation sets your mind in a proactive mode, she says. You'll be clearer on what you need to do.

Since meditation stimulates your mind, Kaplan doesn't recommend doing it before bed. She also suggests meditating before you have a meal or at least not while your belly is full because your body is using up energy processing food.

And if you missed your morning meditation session, the good news is, you can find other times in the day to practice breathing and relaxation techniques. "One of the reasons I founded The Path is to make meditation easy for life," says Kaplan.

Find Peace On the Road

"When I'm traveling, I try to find a quiet place to meditate, whether that's my hotel room, an empty conference room or a quiet place in a hotel lobby to still my mind before a meeting," she says.

Practicing Patience In Line

If you find yourself in a slow-moving line (whether that's at the airport or a checkout line during holiday shopping), Kaplan suggests focusing on the  sensation of your breath. Follow it coming in and going out. "When I do that, I find that I smile at people and it enhances my day!" says Kaplan.

You can also just wiggle your toes, she suggests. This act "puts you into your body." When you're feeling stressed or impatient, you’re "out" of your mind. Wiggling your toes (or fingers) centers you and helps you bring attention into your body. "It’s a reminder we’re human, and makes waiting in line more peaceful," she says.

Handle Difficult Personalities with Grace

Kaplan suggests remembering these two practices throughout the season: "don’t take anything personally" and "be the light."

>>> In Don Miguel Ruiz's popular book The Four Agreements, he reminds readers "don't take anything personally." Repeat that as a mantra to yourself when family, friends, coworkers, and strangers challenge you, say something hurtful, or get on your last nerve, suggests Kaplan. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s always about them.

>>> You spend your time and energy working on creating a beautiful body so try to share that with others by having beautiful energy, suggests Kaplan. Tell yourself to “shine the light” in the moment when someone is irking you. Choose not to get upset when you don’t get your way. "This will help make the holidays more fun and relaxing," she says. "It’ll help people around you feel more relaxed, too!"

Check out "7 Ways to Hack the Holidays" for more healthy holiday tips.