“Peace can be yours this season if you decide to make room for it.” Janelle Bruland

The Holiday season is in full swing. Wherever you look there are signs of the season – twinkling lights on the houses, freshly cut trees atop cars, Christmas music playing. It seems everywhere you go in December; people are rushing around in a frenzy. People ask, “Are you ready for Christmas?” I don’t think they are asking about the real meaning of Christmas, meaning instead “do you have your Christmas cards out; is your shopping done yet; are you set for your parties?”

Why are we so busy being busy? You have heard me talk before about the standard work culture these days where individuals boast a badge of honor for working the most hours as if it is a competition. We have taken this too far and put immense pressure on ourselves. It is no longer just at work where we fall into this trap, but with our personal schedules and countless activities we sign our kids up for.

For some this season brings excitement and is a favorite time of year. For others, the stress meter goes up as you anticipate the festivities; having to spend time with family where there are strained relationships; or missing someone significant in your life.

Here are 5 simple ways to reduce stress and experience more peace this season:

1. Give yourself a break. Rather than succumbing to all of the holiday pressure, give yourself permission to simply stop. Believe it or not, when you are feeling the highest pressure to keep going at a record pace it is more important than ever to stop, refresh, and regroup.

2. Remove something from your schedule. Often our stress is self-induced. We keep saying yes to yet another commitment, another obligation, or another party, that we end up with a calendar so packed full there is no breathing room.

3. Take quiet time every day. Nothing takes off the pressure more and clears the brain then a few quiet moments to yourself. Find a space where you can be alone for 10 minutes and sit quietly, meditate or pray. I do this helpful exercise every day as part of my morning ritual.

4. Get some fresh air. In the cold winter months, many of us get stuck indoors for days at a time. Bundle up and get outside for a walk in the crisp fresh air. Taking a break outdoors can leave you feeling refreshed and more energized for your daily tasks.

5. Do something special for someone else. When we are generous with others, we are making a difference. Research shows that the recipients of your kindness aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits – it makes you happier too. Who is someone you can lift up this month?

I urge you this Christmas season to stop for a moment and think about the reason for the season. Are you creating space to relish, enjoy and celebrate all of the good gifts you have been given? Clear your schedule of the things that don’t really matter in the long run and replace them with time for a coffee and conversation with a friend at work, a play date with your kids, a kiss under the mistletoe.

Peace can be yours this season if you decide to make room for it.