Welcome to December.  It’s often a hectic month of varied emotions – some of them positive, and others that we’re not so proud of.

Who hasn’t had a moment of exasperation in a line-up, a traffic jam or a crowded store?   Who hasn’t thought – ‘Aaack – I need some relief from this upsetting feeling.’  Right?

So in the spirit of spreading relief – I thought I’d share 3 tips that I use to manage the mayhem and maintain some peace of mind. They can be practiced anytime and any where, but are especially helpful this time of year.  These may sound familiar to you – and if so, consider them simply as gentle reminders that you already know how.


  1. Breathe into your belly – there are so many really terrific breathing techniques to choose from – let’s begin with the basics.  Your body knows how to breathe – consider this a chance for you to support what it already does naturally.

Begin by noticing your breath.
Notice as the air moves into and out of your nose – and is a bit cooler on the inhale and warmer on the exhale.  Yep – that’s your body doing it’s perfect job of warming the air as it moves towards your lungs.
Next – notice the rhythm of your breath.  Are you panting?  Are you holding your breath?  Focus on gently lengthening your inhale and exhale.
Next – notice the depth of your breath.  This has most likely already shifted while you lengthened your inhale.  Here’s where you get to relax even more – by consciously softening your abs.  Allow your belly to fill up with air on the next inhale….. and gently deflate on the exhale.
Repeat at least 6 times – and as often as you remember throughout the day.

  1. Scan your body. Notice when it’s giving you a clue.  Are your shoulders up around your ears?  Is your heart racing?  Is your mouth dry? Is your stomach clenched?  Do your muscles feel tight?  That sounds like Fight/Flight.

And yes as soon as you notice, you can take some positive action.  Take a full breath in and as you exhale, roll your shoulders up, back and down (repeat a few more times); place your hand to your heart and speak nicely to yourself (saying something soothing, like ‘I’m safe’, ‘It’s ok’ or simply the word ‘calm’ or ‘peace’)…if you’re inside go outside and walk around the block, if you’re in the car, open the window, sing a ditty, turn on the radio.  And, yes – remember to breathe right into your belly.  Patiently calm yourself, soothe yourself.  Notice the muscles in your shoulders relax, your chest soften, your back muscles loosen.  Once you’ve found your mouth is feeling moist, you are back to feeling more peaceful.  (A fun thing to do is to actually say to yourself ‘My mouth is moist’.  Try it now and see what happens.)

  1. Take a moment to pause. When you do feel anxious, frustrated or exasperated, your body becomes filled with adrenalin.  It takes about 90 seconds for that adrenalin rush to begin to calm down.  Rather than deny it or berate yourself for feeling that way, give yourself those 90 seconds to feel what ever it is you’re feeling without judgement or analysis…… knowing that it’s temporary.  You can imagine you ride it out – like on a horse running up a hill….just let it be…… (if you want, even time it with your watch).  The horse will tire itself out and you’ll have a chance to reassess the situation feeling calmer – with a fresh perspective.

There will always be external events and circumstances that we can’t control.  Giving ourselves some time to pause, showing ourselves compassion and gentle humor can really help manage the inner dialogue and ultimately makes the holiday mayhem much easier to manage.  It leaves us feeling happier and with much more energy to enjoy our friends and family.

There are other great tools and techniques to feel more balanced and calm – and I hope that these 3 help or inspire you to try others out.  If you’d like, send me your favorite technique – I am always interested to hear about what you’re doing.  I’ll be blogging/Tweeting about this soon – and will be choosing the Top Five to share with others.

Let this month also be full of moments where you experience wonder and generosity, kindness and caring.  I truly wish you, your family and friends the best that this season holds.