47712065_SThere have been a lot of things written and shared about how to cope with this time of year, so you probably won’t hear anything new here. But I promised I would and I keep hearing from many of you that this is a tough time of year, so I wanted to share some tips even though Christmas is only a few days away. Here are 5 simple, quick, practical tips you can use RIGHT NOW!

1. Take a deep breath. Really. Right now. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to break the cycle of stress and pressure and ground yourself. Now take 4 more, breathing in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8. Doesn’t that feel better? Breathing is one of the simplest and easiest forms of meditation, which has been called the practice of bringing the mind home to the body. I love that definition.

2. HALT. If you find yourself overreacting in a situation, just HALT. What does that mean? Ask yourself if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Often it is something as simple as missing a meal or taking on too much. HALT helps us remember to slow down for a second and take care of ourselves, including immediate needs like food, rest and connection. Self-care is often one of the first things to go when we are stressed, with disastrous consequences sometimes.

3. Let go of expectations. Expectations of ourselves, and of others, just set us up for disappointment and/or resentments. I truly believe we all do the best we can under any given set of circumstances, so let’s extend grace to ourselves, and those around us, that whatever happens was our best effort in that moment. Things usually work out just the way they are meant to.

4. I have a friend that likes to say, “Love what is” which is a great way to let go of expectations and find more peace. If you can’t love it at least accept what is!

5. Let go of shame and guilt. No one is perfect, especially under stress. So, if you haven’t made the best choices lately (about eating, activity, sleep, relationships or whatever), don’t stay in the past and keep beating yourself up. Read #3 and #4 again. Remember that shame is about who we are, and guilt is about what we do. Sometimes a little healthy guilt can help us get back on track, but shame never does. Read more about this from Brene Brown, one of my favorite authors, especially if this is touching a nerve for you. Remember, you are enough.

I hope this helps, and whatever you are going through this season, my prayer for you is that you are able to see the beauty all around you and that peace and love fill your heart. Merry Christmas!

Dr Loy