Self

Tricks for staying centered when everyone around you isn't

Find calmness amid chaos

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Does your stress level go up as the holidays kick into full gear? The next time someone cuts you off in traffic or the kids are arguing in the back seat, don't get mad. Get mindful.

Cut back on obligations

Before you plunge into the holidays full force, pull up your calendar and decide what you must keep and what you can skip. Having fewer commitments means more time to relax and just be. Don't feel obligated to attend every party and cookie exchange. Consider sending fewer holiday cards this year or skipping them altogether. If you're entertaining, accept offers of help. Simplify your gift-giving and choose fewer, more meaningful gifts. Remember — less is more.

Meditate

Life is full of distractions. It's easy to let your mind spin out of control zipping from one thing to the next. Center yourself by focusing on the present moment. As the saying goes, “The past is history, the future a mystery.” Try to appreciate each moment fully as it comes. The act of focusing on the present is called mindfulness. If this is something you already practice, you won't be surprised that a 2010 study conducted by researchers at Harvard University revealed a link between a wandering mind and unhappiness. So how do you clear your mind of all that clutter? Try a yoga class or practice quiet meditation in the early morning hours.

Breathe

When you get tense, your breathing usually slows or gets more shallow. Less cleansing oxygen means your body and mind aren't going to be happy with you. If you're feeling a little stressed out, remind yourself to breathe. Deep, smooth inhalations and exhalations through your nose work wonders at calming your entire system. Learn more about breathing exercises and how they can improve your well-being on Dr. Weil's Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing CD.

Go easy on yourself

If you slip and lose your temper with the kids or feel your temper flare at another red light, don't be discouraged. Even Zen masters sometimes lose their cool. Each moment is a new opportunity to practice being centered. So don't beat yourself up if you don't master this mindfulness thing in a day, a week or even a year. It's a lifelong practice, so take a breath and keep on going.

Watch: Clear your thoughts and find your inner calm with this mindfulness meditation exercise video. >>

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