On this page you will find articles, free audio and video, and other resources that may give you tips on working toward healing and growth. Whether you struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, or addictive behaviors, no matter the struggles you come here with, this is a place for you to get some tips to support you.

It’s the Holidays! Four Ways to Calm the Stressed Mind

holiday family dinner

Holidays, holidays, holidays. Whether you love the break from routine or you’re already getting tense anticipating the stress of it, like it or not, the holidays are just around the corner. The truth is, for many of us there’s lots of stress around the holidays that can trigger anxiety and depression. We may be thrust into social situations we’re not ready for, pressured into buying gifts with money we don’t have, or caring for parents whose health is failing, along with an array of other challenges.

Here are four things to help you prepare for this holiday season and perhaps even enjoy yourself in moments at a time.

  1. If you’re traveling – Even before you get to your destination there may be stress in the time you’re traveling to get there. Take a few deep breaths, do a mindful check-in or pick from the myriad of reflections and practices from the book Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind.

  2. Envision how you would like to see these holidays play out – What is most important to you about these holidays? Is it connecting with people you haven’t seen in a while or spending time with family or friends? Is it connecting to the spiritual aspects of the holidays? Is it holding onto your money this year? Let’s suppose we let go of the past for a moment and the judgments of good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair. How might you envision a realistic picture of this holiday playing out that works for you? For example, saying something like, “I would like to enjoy my holiday on the moon” might be considered unrealistic.  In other words, choose a goal for this holiday that you feel could potentially be attainable.
  3. Focus on what is most important right now – This may be a good mantra to keep in your pocket during the holidays. It is too easy for us to let our minds get caught up in worries of the future or grievances of the past. Saying to yourself, “what is most important right now”, or “what is my purpose right now” can help keep your mind on track and be aligned with your plan and vision. For example, if the plan is to have an enjoyable time with your family and you catch your mind swimming to grievances of the past while together, saying to yourself “what is most important right now” will allow your mind to come back to the present and realize that the past isn’t as important as the current vision of just connecting with family and friends right now.
  4. Seek social support – The holidays are a time when many of us may feel alone without family and friends around. Isolating during the holidays often gives fuel to depression, so try and find creative ways to be around people for support. You can contact old friends, volunteer, or look at what community organizations are having people get together. See out ideas on your social media sites, if you don’t know of any you can always pop on  Mindful Living Community on Facebook and ask others their thoughts. Relieve yourself of the pressure of needing to be lively, but just being around people can be helpful.

In preparing for the holiday season with mindfulness you give yourself the best chance to move through it with ease and potentially even enjoy the time you have.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

9 Calming Tips (with Less Calories) For the Holidays with Dr. Susan Albers

The holidays are well under way and what comes with that is the inevitable holiday stress! It can be a not-so-merry time for parents – kids are out of their normal routine, hyped-up on sugar and grumpy after being up too late at holiday parties! Instead of soothing and calming your nerves this year with sugar cookies and candy canes, one of my favorite mindful eating experts, New York Times best-selling author Dr. Susan Albers, recommends these 9 natural techniques in her book, 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food.

Treat these following 9 techniques as an experiment and see what you learn along the way:

1) Ho-Ho-Ho Meditation: Holidays are stressful and a recipe for stress eating. Close your eyes and do 3 Santa-Clause-like belly laughs in a simple laughing yoga exercise. Laughing yoga has been shown to reduce your cortisol level, the stress hormone that makes you crave sugary, fatty, salty foods. Creating a moment of laughter can be as simple as googling “funny baby videos” or “viral videos” on youtube.

2) Tea Time. Say bye-bye to pumpkin lattes! Sip Cinnamon tea instead. Cinnamon is clinically shown to help regulate blood sugar which can help you to avoid sugary treats. Also, the scent of cinnamon is calming and a sweet, calorie-free treat that says “Happy, healthy Holidays!”

3) Munch Well. Does simply chewing on something make you feel better? Try gnawing on leftover pumpkin seeds that you dry and roast. This chewy snack will satisfy your need to munch, and it contains L-tryptophan which helps to naturally combat depression and the blues.

Continue Reading →

Beyond Gratitude: A Tip for a Happier Holiday Season

Thanks to pioneers like Robert Emmons and Michael McCollough, we now know that gratitude can have an enormously positive effect on our mental health. Not only that, thanks to the advent of neuroplasticity, practicing gratitude can even help shape your brain in ways that promote resilience and well-being.

If you need a boost on ways to practice gratitude, check out my post on 5 Steps to Gratitude and Lovingkindness: Mondays Mindful Quote with Hafiz.

But this post isn’t just about gratitude, it’s about taking it a step further which moves into another stage called altruism. Altruistic behavior is all about acting selflessly to help serve or benefit another. Altruistic behavior has been found to be a predictor of happiness and life satisfaction (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Altruism is also tied to another hot topic in our culture today and that is compassion and kindness. In this blog I have written a number of posts about compassion and kindness because they are such good nutrition for our health and well-being. Compassion has been called an antidote to anger and kindness has been called and antidote to fear.

Now, it could be argued that because I brought up all the personal benefits you may experience from engaging with kindness, compassion and altruism that these endeavors are not pure because you know they will serve your mental health. In other words, they’re ego-driven. Try and set this argument aside for now as we move into the social implication of kindness, compassion and altruism.

While the brain takes longer to register compassion for social pain than individual pain, the effect is longer lasting when awareness around social pain settles in. There are certain tragedies in this Continue Reading →

A Letter to Your Heart: Three Practices for Times of Tragedy

It’s almost unbelievable.

The death tolls continue to rise and people’s lives continue to be turned inside out and upside down from historic recent earthquakes, hurricanes, massive fires and the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States in Las Vegas.

These disasters are real and at the same time it brings people together, taps our hearts and creates an outpouring of compassionate action that unveils the best of our humanity.

At the same time, we can get quickly swept up in the stories in our minds that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Our brains are designed to project into the future and attempt to predict the worst case scenarios so we can be prepared.

It doesn’t do us any good to continue in a state of auto-pilot with a hyperaroused nervous system, spreading worry, negativity and catastrophe throughout our social circle. Not only are our storylines a source of suffering, but spreading these catastrophic stories through our social networks creates an emotional contagious of emotional suffering.

We already get enough of that through the news. The news knows that our eyeballs get fused to the screen at signs of danger and plays on it so it can sell more soap. It’s a business and the bottom line is truly to make more money and it knows how to play on our concerns. This is the same for MSNBC, CNN, and Fox news – money has no party loyalty.

But there’s a few practices in times of tragedy to work to balance our minds, soothe our nervous systems and inspire connection.

Step 1: Neutralize the Negativity Bias

One way to work with this negativity bias we all have and one that can grow into a strength – Continue Reading →

Toward Sustainable Happiness

We are all looking for ways to make the changes we want to make more sustainable. When it comes to mindfulness it’s no different.

Listen in on this video where Melli O’Brien (aka MrsMindfulness) interviews me on this very topic and pick up some key tips on how to create lasting change.

One way that I try and make lasting change around mindfulness (and life) possible for everyone is through a 6 month program called A Course in Mindful Living where people get unparalleled support in personalized mentorship, a highly refined program based in science and experience and an engaged supportive community. If you’re interested in knowing more and ready to make this change for good, it begins October 2, 2017. Come check it out!