Although there is a lot to look forward to this holiday season, we all know that that between the shopping, planning, money woes, family dinners, social obligations, and figuring out what gifts to get your countless friends and family members, the holidays can be a stressful time for many people.

While they say it’s better to give than to receive, it’s important to give to yourself, too, in the form of self-care and mental downtime. If you're relaxed,  you can give your best to others and avoid holiday burnout.

I reached out to Christina Nadeau, a local certified meditation and mindfulness teacher, for some tips on how to keep you calm, Zen, and ready for the  season. Following are her five tips:

  • Be kind to yourself: The inner language we use with ourselves shapes how we view a situation. Our criticisms can be damaging to our well-being. Changing our inner dialogue to be kind, friendly and positive can dramatically change your mood and self-esteem. Start by making your inner voice your ally and best friend. How would you talk to your dear friend?
  • Let go of expectations: Your view of how things should be can be limiting or even self-defeating. For all you readers out there with anxiety and needing that peace of mind of having to know every outcome, this tip is especially for you. Learn to go with the flow and try not to set a bar on how you expect people to act or events to unfold. During the holiday season, a lot of unexpected events may occur, while we may not be expecting them, that’s where magic happens!
  • Mono-task: You may be familiar with multitasking, where you try to complete as many tasks as you can at the same time. Focusing your attention on different things at the same time causes our bodies harm. Our breath tends to be short and infrequent. We tend to stop eating and staying hydrated. We look at our to do lists as something to be conquered which puts our bodies in a fight or flight stress response. Shifting your thought process to focus on one task at a time will not only get your must-dos completed, but you will actually be more apt to take care of yourself during the process.
  • Be aware of your breathing: Stress can alter your breath to be shallow, short and infrequent, which can decrease your overall oxygen intake. Breathing from your abdomen, allowing your belly to expand and contract completely will allow for more relaxed deep breaths. Breathing from your belly stimulates the vagus nerve, which is located in the center of your abdomen, sending signals to your brain to be calm and think clearly. During the holidays or anytime, we can lose ourselves while under stress, by taking the time to acknowledge our breath can diminish our stress levels exponentially.
  • Welcome five minutes of silence: Take five minutes to unplug or meditate at the beginning and end of each day to center yourself. Set a timer on your cell phone or watch. Start by closing your eyes and take a few deep breaths from your abdomen. If your attention shifts to a thought, sensation or emotion, acknowledge it for a moment, and then come back to your breathing.

Charlee Ulmer, owner at Village Yoga in Duck, suggests meditation and yoga to keep calm.

"To balance the chaos that may seem unavoidable during the holiday season, I find guided, grounding meditation and slow yoga practices to be the most helpful," Ulmer said. "These simple practices are a way for me to take time — even 10 minutes — for myself to really 'ground down' amongst the celebrations."

Village Yoga has a free meditation class every Monday evening from 7:15 to 7:45 p.m. They also have a Restorative Yoga and Hot Stone Bliss class on Nov. 30, Dec. 21, Dec. 26, and Jan. 2, 2020. Gift certificates are available. The studio is at 1240 Duck Road, Duck. Call 252-564-2219 or visit the studio’s Facebook page for more information.

A few other places to go to find your inner tranquility amidst the chaos of the season include:

  • The Well Yoga: Regularly scheduled yoga and meditation classes, wellness market with local healers for affordable prices and donation-based yoga class on the 2nd Sunday each month. 3105 N. Croatan Hwy., Unit 30, Kill Devil Hills; 252-267-4125, and on Facebook.
  • OBX Hot Yoga: Regularly scheduled classes and happy hour half priced classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. 2420 S. Croatan Hwy., Nags Head; 252-564-9648, and on Facebook.
  • Ascension Studio OBX: The cooperative healing space offering healing sessions such as reiki, bodywork, chakra balancing, energy tune ups, and even attitude adjustment sessions. 500 Sand Dune Drive, Unit M, Kitty Hawk; 804-366-7076, and on Facebook.
  • Outer Banks Meditation & Mindfulness: Regularly scheduled meditation and mindfulness classes are offered. 791 Sunset Blvd., Corolla; 252-639-0623 and on Facebook.

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