Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Duke Medicine: Please 'be' home for the holidays

Posted November 22, 2010 8:42 p.m. EST

Are you already feeling some stress at the very thought of the upcoming holiday season? If so, you are not alone. And, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Instead of being overwhelmed or exhausted by the many demands of the holidays, you can take a different approach -- one involving more “being” and less “doing.” The results could mean you connect more fully with your holiday experiences, and your life in general, and you begin to feel more alive and present in the new year.

What can you do to gain freedom from this seemingly endless round of busyness?

  • Take time each day to stop and to be present with yourself and life, just as it is. For example, for five minutes four times a day, stop and practice "being" instead of doing. Bring attention to the sensations of your own breath and body and allow them to flow naturally as you simply pay kind attention to the experience.
  • Give yourself time each day for rest and play. You may need to schedule this, just as you would schedule a meeting or a lunch date with a friend.
  • Give yourself permission to say “no” to invitations, or to leave events early. This will result in more time and flexibility for you. It also leads to a feeling of being back in control of your life.
  • Look for ways to simplify your life, not only during the holidays, but afterward as well. For example, review your holiday patterns of gift giving, card sending, or party going. Look for ways to simplify without losing the essence or meaning of what you are doing. Apply similar review to other aspects of your life. Be willing to let go of anything that is no longer important or meaningful for you.
  • Above all, have kindness and compassion (a little “holiday spirit”) for yourself. Especially when you don’t do things "perfectly." Or you forget to do any of the above or anything else you meant to do.

For more on avoiding holiday stress, including a breathing exercise, read the full article on