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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

It's the Holidays! Four Ways to Calm the Stressed Mind

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 19th 2012

family eatingHolidays, holidays, holidays. Whether you love the break from routine or you’re already getting tense anticipating the stress of it, like it or not, the holidays are just around the corner. The truth is, for many of us there’s lots of stress around the holidays that can trigger anxiety and depression. We may be thrust into social situations we're not ready for, pressured into buying gifts with money we don't have, or caring for parents whose health is failing, along with an array of other challenges.

Here are four things to help you prepare for this holiday season and perhaps even enjoy yourself in moments at a time. 

  • If you’re traveling - Even before you get to your destination there may be stress in the time you're traveling to get there. Take a few deep breaths, do a mindful check-in or pick from the myriad of reflections and practices in the recent book release of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick exercises to calm your mind. 

  • Envision how you would like to see these holidays play out - What is most important to you about these holidays? Is it connecting with people you haven't seen in a while or spending time with family or friends? Is it connecting to the spiritual aspects of the holidays? Is it holding onto your money this year? Let's suppose we let go of the past for a moment and the judgments of good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair. How might you envision a realistic picture of this holiday playing out that works for you? For example, saying something like, "I would like to enjoy my holiday on the moon" might be considered unrealistic.  In other words, choose a goal for this holiday that you feel could potentially be attainable.

  • Focus on what is most important right now - This may be a good mantra to keep in your pocket during the holidays.  It is too easy for us to let our minds get caught up in worries of the future or grievances of the past .Saying to yourself, "what is most important right now", or "what is my purpose right now" can help keep your mind on track and be aligned with your plan and vision. For example, if the plan is to have an enjoyable time with your family and you catch your mind swimming to grievances of the past while together, saying to yourself "what is most important right now" will allow your mind to come back to the present and realize that the past isn't as important as the current vision of just connecting with family and friends right now.

  • Seek social support - The holidays are a time when many of us may feel alone without family and friends around. Isolating during the holidays often gives fuel to depression, so try and find creative ways to be around people for support. You can contact old friends, volunteer, or look at what community organizations are having people get together. See out ideas on your social media sites, if you don’t know of any you can always pop on The Now Effect Community on Facebook and ask others their thoughts. Relieve yourself of the pressure of needing to be lively, but just being around people can be helpful.

In preparing for the holiday season with mindfulness you give yourself the best chance to move through it with ease and potentially even enjoy the time you have. 

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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