The Best Kept Holiday De-stress Secret

Here we are, the first week of November.  You might be thinking, how the HECK did that happen?!  Well, it did, and the holiday season has begun.  Starbuck’s is pouring our lattes into red cups, Kmart is advertising layaway, and every store that we enter is looking more red and green.  The advertisements and sales are already underway and last night while making a quick run into Whole Foods, I came face to face with an enormous display of candy canes and gingerbread.  Oh yes, my friends, it has begun.

So you will be hearing lots of advice in the coming weeks (including from yours truly) about how to “survive” the holidays.  When did the holidays become something that we needed to survive?  As a child growing up in the 70s and early 80s, when I think about the holidays I think about the red and green construction paper chain that my mom would make us to “count down” to Christmas.  The calendar that she would put on the fridge noting when the Christmas “specials” would be airing on TV.  Yes my millennial friends, there was a time when we only got to watch Frosty the Snowman once a year and you did NOT want to miss it!  Things just seemed a bit more simple.  Now granted, through the eyes of a child, but I don't recall the adults being as stressed out as they are today.  Everyone seemed more present.

So how can we be more present as the media cyclone and gingerbread men swirl around us?  Time for what I believe is the best kept holiday de-stress secret, and no it isn't an eggnog latte, it is something that we all have endless access to and it is 100% free.  Drumroll please…. It’s the BREATH.  Yes my friends, I made all of this hoopla over breathing, because it really is that simple.  Breathing slows us down and brings us into the present moment.  So as we embark on this season, which should be filled with gratitude and joy, I offer you my favorite breathing exercise to bring you back into the moment, to calm your nerves, and hopefully bring you peace.

I’m a huge fan of Dr. Andrew Weil and if you have read his work or follow him at all, you have probably come across his 4-7-8 breathing technique.  It takes less than one minute to complete and doing it just twice a day, or whenever you find yourself spinning, can truly make a difference in how you feel.  So here is how you do it:

•Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

•Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

•Hold your breath for a count of seven.

•Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

•This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Watch Dr. Weil demonstrate this method via the following link:

How do you plan to stay present and calm this season?  I would love to hear your comments below.

(Image courtesy of:


  1. Great blog post!! Agree that Breathing is one of the key elements to savor. In the recent stress, I have not been doing this enough & have noticed the effects. I just recommended Dr. Wiel’s exercise to a client the other day!! She is stoked about it & noticed a difference.

    1. Thanks, Kirsten! Isn’t it so simple, but so true?! I love this breathing technique and I’m glad to hear that you are also recommending to clients. Take good care! Jan

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