Three Mindfulness Exercises for Busting Holiday Stress

Try these easy ways to relax next time anxiety flares up.


The author, mid-yoga class. Photo by Josh Campbell

You may get a few extra days off from work around the holidays, but that hardly means that stress dissipates—often, it’s quite the opposite.

A packed social schedule, house guests, hours upon end spent in the kitchen, gift shopping, and more can make the holidays feel more frantic than festive. When stresses bog you down, practice these three mindfulness exercises.

1. Repeating a mantra

Choose a holiday mantra to help you cope with your biggest stress triggers. If the holidays pass you by without any time to enjoy them, maybe your mantra is, “Enjoy each moment.” If you are frantically preparing for a holiday gathering, choose something like, “Slow down and breathe deeply.” If you are anxious to see certain relatives, choose something along the lines of, “Do all things with love.” When you feel overwhelmed, sit down and close your eyes. Repeat the mantra to yourself, or aloud, until the feeling subsides.

2. Standing in tadasana

Coming into tadasana—or mountain poseis a simple and effective way to hit the reset button. Go here when you find your head spinning at the mall, kitchen, or workplace. Stand with feet touching, heels slightly apart, and hands by your sides, with palms facing front. Firm your leg muscles, engage your core, and relax the shoulder blades down your back. Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. If tadasana isn’t working, try child’s pose.

3. Nadi shodhana breathing

Nadi shodhana is the practice of alternative nostril breathing. To start, find a comfortable seat and elevate your hips by sitting on a yoga block, blanket, or pillow. To begin the pranayama, or breathing exercise, inhale through your right nostril while blocking the left nostril with the ring and pinky finger of your right hand. Switch to block your right nostril with your thumb, and exhale through your left nostril. Inhale through your left nostril, then block it to exhale through your right nostril. This is one cycle of nadi shodhana. Repeat for one to 10 minutes.

Turn to these mindful, meditative exercises any time holiday stress starts to get the best of you.