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A Survival Guide to the Holidays

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

(Hint: Rhymes with "oy")

It's here again. The holiday season: A time when we see tons of images of happy, beautiful families in new clothes eating perfect meals...with the coveted toy that's been sold out since August. No one is having a tantrum. No one is refusing Grandma's fruitcake. And certainly no 14 year old is boycotting the holiday meal by wearing her giraffe onesie.

You already know that the images of the holiday season on social media and ads are hyped up. They're not based in reality. So how do you practice what actually matters to you?

The answer lies in creating space for the rituals you DO cherish. A recent episode of NPR TED talks, Where Joy Hides, explored how the feeling of joy arises from the five senses. Joy arises in moments, whereas happiness occurs over time. And the episode postulated that in looking for happiness, many of us miss out on moments of joy.

Enter yoga. By doing a few yoga stretches or a deep breathing practice, you cultivate awareness of the present moment and get in touch with your senses. At the bottom of this post, I give you two ideas for yogic practices. But for a moment, let's focus on the concrete steps to get you from "meh" to joy:

1) Decide on one practice that calms you, and practice it for at least 3-5 minutes.

2) Next, pick a sensory experience that will help you bring that feeling of calm into the here & now. If you live in a cold place, you could go outside and make a snowball to feel the cold, cold snow melt in your hand. If you live in a warm place, go out and feel the sun (or rain) on your shoulders. Or find something beautiful in nature, or in your own room to revel at. Drink in that sensory experience--be fully present with what you feel. This is the experience of joy.

3) Share your experience with someone else. Or better yet, do this practice with them.

The essence of ritual (a key ingredient to all holidays) is that it's a shared experience. When we share the experience of joy with another, we tap into the meaning behind the holiday. Moments of joy shared with someone else magnify that joy. That's the whole reason we celebrate. So this holiday season, don't forget to practice moments of


Here are a few mindful practices you can use to help you put step #1 into action:

Yoga Practice

  • Come to hands and knees. Inhale, look up and arch your back. Exhale, look at your belly button and round your back. Do this 5 times, slowly.

  • Come back to hands and knees, and step right foot between hands for lunge. Stay here 5 breaths. Then step right foot back and left foot up. Hold lunge on the left for 5 deep, even breaths.

  • Now stand tall, inhale arms up to the sky and exhale arms down to your toes (bend those knees if backs of legs are tight!). Hang in a forward fold for 5 deep, even breaths. Come up slowly, to ensure you don't feel dizzy.

Breathing Practice--Birthday Candles

  • Imagine your fingers are like birthday candles. Hold your hand up like lit candles. Inhale deep, and with each exhale blow out one more candle.


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