Why is the most joyous time of year also so darn stressful?

During the holiday season, we put even more pressure on ourselves to be super-women, taking our already busy days and stuffing even more in. You’re on the hunt for the perfect holiday cards, the best gifts, the cutest wrapping paper. Whether you’re wearing the sassiest outfit to the hottest parties or nesting at home with friends, chances are good that you are doing more than your share of partying, shopping, and socializing…while trying to complete your work projects before the end of the year. It can get downright exhausting.

Is it any wonder forty-five percent of Americans would prefer to skip the holidays all together?

We refuse to take a moment for ourselves because there’s just so much to do. But we can’t expect to do and be our best or operate at our highest levels if we don’t allow ourselves a moment to catch our breath.

So decorate the tree. Light the Menorah. Celebrate Kwanzaa. Honor diverse traditions. BUT…stop the madness.

Meditation offers us the reprieve we need to center ourselves so that the holiday cheer is actually cheerful.

Take a moment, even when immersed in the swell of holiday madness, to just breathe. It’s often harder when you’re in the thick of holiday shoppers pushing and shoving to get the last “IT” toy of the season, but practicing in these ‘smaller’ moments can help to train us to handle bigger challenges like dealing with difficult people, managing anxiety or even just breaking a bad mood. We all have ups and downs in our lives…and taking deep breaths, meditating, taking care of ourselves in stressful moments can be a lifesaver.

Taking care of ourselves in stressful moments can be a lifesaver. @meditationsapp (Click to Tweet!)

You can kick-start a meditation practice in small steps. Start by downloading an app like Meditation Studio, Apple’s pick as one of the 10 Best Apps of the year. Next, starting now, commit to doing at least one five minute meditation a day. Two of my favorites are Elisha Goldsteins’ “Mountain Strength” in the Confidence Collection and Chrissy Carters’ “Finding Calm in Conflict” in the Relationship Collection. If you don’t have time to sit for five minutes, try the two minute Quick Breaks.

Meditation teaches us to be more mindful, compassionate and kind to ourselves and others, which is needed all year round. Let’s allow the true spirit of the holidays — family, community, service, and giving — to reclaim center stage as we spread stress-free holiday cheer during the most wonderful time of the year.

Patricia Karpas is the co-founder and head of content for Meditation Studio LLC, the home of Meditationstudioapp.com. This 5-star app includes 200 meditations, 16 collections, 3 courses and 27 teachers. The app focuses on stress, anxiety, pain, sleep, happiness, confidence, performance and so much more, providing tools for beginners and experienced meditators. It’s a must have! She’s also the host of Untangle, the podcast that showcases the stories of experts, authors and real people whose lives have been transformed by meditation or mindfulness practices.

Image courtesy of Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Chrissy Carter (with permission).