Many of us feel stressed during the holidays. We feel family pressure, social pressure, stress about gifts, stress about resolutions…

Just last week, while at a holiday gathering I felt the familiar feeling of what I call “leaving yourself” this is when my inner critic has taken over and I am more concerned with what others think of me then what I think of myself or even more importantly feel about myself.  Here are a few tips for what I call “returning to yourself”.  I have used them for years and I used them that evening last week and they work!

1. Is the conversation inside your head is louder then the conversation outside your head.  If it is, take a “time out”, a few minutes break from the conversation to regroup. To get a “time out” you can excuse yourself to (whether it is your home or not) go check something in the oven, to the bathroom, to do a few dishes, to get something from the garage. During this time out take a few deep breaths, feel your feet on the floor or your hands on whatever they might be touching, soapy water, the door of the oven, a box in the garage. This will keep you in the moment instead of in your head with that loud conversation that usually only has critical things to say.

2. Appreciation inside and out.  Appreciation feels good to give and to receive.  And it is very important you give it TO YOURSELF as well as others. Try this out; Each time you extend appreciation to someone else take a quick moment to inwardly extend it to yourself too.  Is can be for something small or large don’t get stumped looking for something big enough or important enough to appreciate.  It can be as simple as appreciating yourself for making breakfast for your family, for showing up positively to your last meeting, for emailing your group of friends or family with an idea for your next gathering.

3. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe.  When you feel scattered, anxious or overwhelmed just pause for a moment. Take a small break from whatever you are doing and just deeply breathe.  Remind your adrenal glands that they can slow down…. Let yourself be still for 30 seconds and I think you will feel different afterward.

Remember these practices are SIMPLE but NOT EASY! It takes time to develop the “muscles” of self kindness. But it is worth the effort!

Good luck!

Rebekkah LaDyne is based in the San Francisco Bay Area where she teaches Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga.

She teaches group class, individual sessions and retreats. She has published 2 Instructional Yoga and Mindfulness CDs for home practice.