THE BLOG
12/02/2014 03:52 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2015

How to Survive the Holidays

The holiday season is officially here! Now is the time for gatherings of families and friends, brotherhood and sisterhood, holiday spirit, new years resolutions, goal setting, faith for the future, and big changes. These months can ooze feelings of happiness, goodwill, and hope. We collect food and toys for those who are struggling and make a conscious effort to give back. This season can bring out the best in people, and I love hearing stories of great generosity and charity. During this time, we share our inspiration and hope for a new year full of positive differences from the last.

These are also the months where many of us struggle. We are stressed out! So many expectations of the holiday that include balancing family time, office parties, buying gifts, traveling, decorating, cooking, and somewhere having some fun in between! And don't even get me started on new years resolutions, where we double the pressure on ourselves with our life review, realizing that we are not living the life we had envisioned. We place a lot of unrealistic expectations and rules on ourselves as to what constitutes the "perfect holiday," which often sets us up for disappointment.

So how can you cope with holiday stress and survive the holidays? Mindfulness can help tremendously. Mindfulness includes being present in the current situation and not placing any judgement or labels on it. It is a practice that any one can do and start at any time, and it can significantly reduce your stress, especially during the holiday season. Here are five tips you can start focusing on now to not only survive the holidays, but actually enjoy them!

1. Focus on holiday cheer.
Instead of feeling sad, discouraged, disappointed, or helpless, what would you like to feel instead? How would you like to remember this holiday season? Remember, what you focus on is what you receive, and by focusing on positivity, gratitude, happiness, and abundance, you will begin to create space for more of those types of thoughts to enter your mind more frequently. You will also begin to see more acts of positivity around you, like the happiness or giving nature of others, instead of focusing on negativity like grumpy Christmas shoppers. It is amazing when you shift your focus how you can change your environment pretty instantly.

2. Self-care is a must.
This is a season of giving, but often times we give so much of ourselves to others, that we forget to take care of ourselves. The added stress of a full agenda and extra to-do lists can create havoc on our bodies, minds, and spirits. Be compassionate with yourself during this time and give to yourself, especially in those moments where you feel completely overwhelmed. You may need to take some breaths, go on a walk, take a bubble bath, or have some alone time to regroup, but self-care is essential to your well being this holiday season.

3. Practice gratitude every day.
When we feel gratitude, we activate a mindset of abundance, that everything we need we already have. When we are not feeling gratitude, we operate from a mindset of scarcity, feeling like we never have enough, and take actions from a place of fear. By practicing gratitude, we are always abundant, which supports the generosity and compassion that we can give to others during this season.

4. Have compassion for others.
Often times, we think we are the only ones that are struggling with financial or family issues and that we are the only ones that feel alone or unhappy. But if you were to talk to others, you would realize that you are not the only one and that we all have similar insecurities and doubts. Compassion for others during this time of year can reduce our anxiety and stress by creating other areas to focus on that really matter, which is the hearts and spirits of people.

5. Be curious every day.
It's unfortunate that we become immune to the magic of the holidays. Take note of the beauty of the lights on trees, the way the cold air feels on our cheeks, the smell of freshly baked cookies, or the sounds of music, nature, or children. See the world through the eyes of a child, full of curiosity and wonder. It will open up so many possibilities for you, allowing you to experience the day with richness and intricacy.

We can't control the situations around us this holiday season, but we can control how we react to the stresses that present themselves to us. Instead of letting to-do lists, people, and the extreme busyness of the season overwhelm us, we can choose to engage in mindful behavior. By doing so we will not only reduce our stress level, but we can actually enjoy the holidays, finding those special moments that only this season can bring us. Happy Holidays!

Melissa Escaro is a life coach and modern mindfulness educator who helps individuals create an abundant and fulfilling life in this crazy world! She believes in the power of intentional thought, that our thoughts create our reality, and that we have the power to create a life of abundance, joy, and fulfillment. She coaches women on how to create new ways of thinking to activate their confidence, creativity, and femininity. Melissa is the author of In10tions: A Mindset Reset Guide to Happiness, which will be released February 27, 2015. www.in10tionsbook.com.

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