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Hello, Holidays!

Six simple ways to enjoy the hustle and bustle—and keep your sanity.

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with this time of the year. “There’s no way around it, preparing for the holidays takes you out of your normal routine and demands more brain power,” says mindfulness expert Julie Potiker, author of Life Falls Apart, But You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos.

But not this year! Put these simple steps at the top of your to-do list, and you’ll be on the fast track to dialing down holiday stress and turning up the cheer.

Keep it simple. The best way to minimize the stress of all the extra stuff you’re facing is to hold on to the pieces of your daily routine that have the most positive impact on your wellness. Whether that means going to yoga or book club instead of addressing cards or baking cookies, it’s up to you.

Go with the flow. Build little moments of mindfulness into seasonal tasks to help keep your cool. When you get to the shopping center, take a moment to grab a holiday-spiced latte and savor the flavors, or take a mini-meditation break between wrapping gifts.

Clear a path. It’s all-too-easy to overbook yourself at this time of year. The next time you get a party invite or volunteer request, remember this simple response: “I’ll get back to you.” That buys you time to do a gut check and figure out if it’s worth adding to your already-busy schedule.

Eat calming foods. Be sure your daily diet is high in lean protein and complex carbohydrates like vegetables, which help to stabilize blood sugar and your mood. Two Mindful meals that fit the bill: the new Shrimp, Fennel & Beluga Lentil Salad and the Aztec Burger.

Take a whiff of citrus. Scents like orange, lemon and grapefruit can help promote a sense of calm by boosting levels of a feel-good brain chemical. Keep a citrus-scented candle near your workspace or place a few drops of essential oil on your wrists for a quick escape from the holiday hullabaloo throughout the day.

Make peace with Pinterest fails. If you’re tempted to make sure everything is just-so this holiday season, give yourself more credit for your attempts, rather than focusing on the outcomes. And when the frenzy starts to reach a peak, borrow Potiker’s “loving kindness meditation” to remind yourself of what’s truly important: May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease. “You can repeat this a few times to feel more peaceful, open and loving to yourself and others,” she says.

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