The holidays are a wonderful time. Full of family, friends, presents, decorating, big dinners, cleaning up after big dinners, shopping for presents and so on. Sure, there’s a lot of great times to be had but there’s also a lot of pressure to make sure everyone is having a great time. First of all, let’s remove as much of that pressure as possible. Not everything has to be catalog ready, and expecting that level of perfection can often take away from the fun of getting there. If you find yourself in the midst of a holiday prep stress fest, try a few of these quick meditations to help you through it.

Get Your Morning Mindset Right (2-5 minutes)

One of the best ways to tackle stress is to address it before you are in the midst of it. So, try giving yourself a few extra minutes in the morning, as little as two minutes is fine, to calm your mind and center yourself to prepare for the day.

  • Find a comfortable place in your home to sit, on the floor, in a chair, on the couch – just somewhere where part of your body can touch the floor
    • Having your feet or legs or hands on the floor is a good way to connect to your surroundings, as well as a place to refocus your energy if your mind starts to wander.
  • Close your eyes and notice your breathing. Slowly breathe in and out and think about your breath. Is it heavy? Are you feeling stress?
    • One thing to remember with meditation is that there is no end goal, there’s no way to do it correctly. It’s about finding time to quiet your mind, as best you can, and taking a moment for yourself.
  • If you have time, take notice of the sounds around you. Is it silent? Is it loud? Take an inventory of the sounds and then return to your breathing.
  • Slowly open your eyes when you’re ready

10 Minute Meditation

Now that you have the basics of meditation down, try to carve out some time before a stressful day or event to give yourself a full ten minutes to focus on centering yourself. Ten minutes may not seem like that much, but when you’re in the midst of a busy day anything more can seem downright impossible to make time for which may ultimately keep you from making the time for yourself. 

  • Find a quiet space, preferably one without any distractions or interruptions. I like to use my bedroom or living room (presuming I have the house to myself).
  • Lay down on the floor with your palms out and facing the ceiling
  • Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing
    • Take a breath in through your nose, slowly, about three seconds
    • Hold your breath in your body and put your hands on your stomach
    • Release the breath slowly and feel your stomach fall
      • Repeat this action, slowly, with your hands on your stomach, feeling it rise and fall
      • If your mind begins to wander, bring it back to your breath and the feeling of your hands guiding the breath over your stomach
  • Keep your hands on your stomach and, with your eyes still closed, take inventory of the environment around you
    • What is the temperature in the room?
    • Is there any outside noise?
    • What scents are you noticing?
    • Do this for a minute or so and then bring your mind back to your breath.
  • If your mind feels calm, give yourself a minute or two to let it wander
    • What do you initially start thinking about?
      • Are you worried about the stress of the upcoming day?
        • If your mind wanders to an anxious place, refocus on your breathing and the feeling of your hands on your stomach as it rises and falls with each breath.
      • Try thinking about a simple object, like a leaf or a beach ball or something that relaxes you
        • Get close to the object, really investigate it and the environment around it
          • Don’t worry about creating an entire scene, your mind will naturally associate the object to a familiar surrounding
    • Go back to your breathing
      • Refocus on the feeling of your breath moving throughout your body
      • Feel your weight sinking into the floor
      • Move your hands from your stomach to the floor, palms open and facing up to the ceiling
      • Breath in slowly and out slowly, focusing on your breath as well as the feeling of your body on the floor.
    • When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes and sit up
      • How do you feel?
        • Take a moment to think about how you feel now versus before you started meditating
        • Are you calmer?
          • Again, there’s no goal in mind here. Just giving yourself a moment to pause and then taking inventory of how you feel during and when you’re done.

In The Moment Stress Reduction (2 Minutes or Less)

This one is helpful for when you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a break. If you’ve already been doing the more structured meditations you can lean on a few of the things you have practiced, if not just think about this as an opportunity to calm your mind and have a moment to yourself.

  • Find a quiet place away from whatever room you are currently in
    • It’s important to remove yourself from the situation that is causing you stress, if only for a moment. Changing the energy of an entire room or situation is a much heavier lift than calming your own energy and centering yourself.
    • I have 100% excused myself to the restroom to leave a stressful situation, and done a quick breathing technique to help me refocus.
      • The bathroom is a sanctuary, with a lock.
  • It’s fine to do this while standing, or sitting if you can find a comfortable place.
  • Close your eyes, put your hands on your stomach and begin slowing your breath.  
    • Count three seconds as you breathe in and three seconds as you breathe out.
      • Keep your hands on your stomach, and notice your breath as it moves through your body
      • Do this until you begin to feel calmer
        • If your mind begins to wander, bring it back to your counting, breathing and the feelings of your hands on your stomach
    • If you have time, imagine a simple object like the leaf or beach ball from the 10-minute exercise
      • If you have done this previously, it will help to center your mind as it is a familiar visualization that you have already associated with calm
    • Go back to your breathing for a few more seconds and then slowly open your eyes
    • Head back out and see if you feel calmer

Meditation can feel frustrating at first because there is no “right way” to do it. There is no perfect way to meditate, it’s about finding what helps you quiet your mind and re-energize you. Once you let go of the idea of a defined “goal” you open up a much larger space to recharge in. Don’t worry how long it takes you to get there, just allow yourself a few minutes a day the opportunity to try.