6 Mantras for Nixing Holiday Stress From a Meditation Coach

The text comes in: “Hey, you’re coming to the holiday party on Friday, right!?” Cue the urge to turn your phone off and literally dive into your drawer of stress-relief essential oils. No, you’re not a Grinch; you’re just already booked and in over your head with the 10 other commitments you have going on later this week. Enter: the wave of guilt for just wanting to rest instead of adding another social engagement to your overbooked cal. From one people-pleaser to another, I get it.

A 2021 survey from the American Psychological Association found that 41 percent of adults say their stress levels increase during the holidays and 32 percent say that they’re anxious about not being able to get enough rest during the holiday season. It’s understandable: With holiday travel, back-to-back social engagements, family obligations, and end-of-year work deadlines, the last few weeks of the year are jam-packed for many of us.

At one point or another, we are going to have to say “no” to something because despite our best intentions, we can’t be everywhere at once. We have limited time and energy. It is up to us to create the conditions for calm in our own lives.

As a meditation teacher, it didn’t take long for me to realize I was spreading myself too thin whenever the holidays rolled around. Yes, my meditation practice was there to ground me, but I found myself needing something fast-acting and concrete. Something I could use whenever the “I need to be at every holiday gathering” guilt started to creep in.

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This is where the regular use of mantra entered my holiday season. I noticed in both myself and my clients that repeating specific phrases created a drastic shift in overall well-being, reducing stress and helping to self-soothe. (Research has also shown that mantra-based meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, especially when combined with other practices.) This created the foundation for respected boundaries and dissolved guilt during this challenging time of year.

When it comes to choosing a mantra, it’s important we say something we genuinely believe. To help with this, I like adding the word “may” at the beginning of the phrase. Saying to yourself, “I am deserving of boundaries” is great. But what if you’re not in the place where you fully believe it yet? In order for the mantra to be effective, it has to be something you resonate with. “May I” mantras are gentle. They come across as invitations, rather than demands, which can help with meeting yourself where you’re at.

Here are six tried-and-true holiday mantras you can use on rotation to help support your well-being (and ensure you actually get some rest this season).

1. “May I honor my energy levels”

Give yourself permission to do what you need to do. Use this mantra to align with what your best self knows to be true—whether that be a chill night in or turning up for the party.

2. “I choose rest, and I do it with grace”

By choosing to rest when you crave it, you are choosing your optimal health and a calm nervous system. Take it one step further by committing to doing it gracefully. You may have turned down the invite, but you did so with kindness because that is your nature.

3. “You are deserving of this time”

Reassurance goes a long way. Speak to yourself in the second person, like you would talk to a close friend. When you practice this long enough, you’ll get into the habit of speaking to yourself in a way that is rooted in love and care.

4. “May my boundaries be protected”

This is a declaration to yourself and the universe of your preference. By reciting this mantra with intention, over time, you may start to find that protecting your boundaries comes effortlessly.

5. “I welcome forgiveness into my life”

You may feel bad for putting yourself first, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like feeling like you’ve let other people down. This is a beautiful chance to practice forgiveness—both towards yourself and energetically toward others.

6. “My peace is entirely up to me”

This mantra will help you take your power back. It’s simple, yet serves as a reminder that you are responsible and fully capable of creating the conditions for peace in your life. Let this knowledge empower you.

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