Take care of your mind, body and behavior during the holidays using this Model BETA – B for Body, E for Emotions, T for Thoughts and A for Actions. Be ready to get back to work with long lasting, sustainable benefits from your summer break.

  • Body: We experience the physical sensations of stress and anxiety thanks to the sympathetic nervous system, our ancient fight-or-flight system. The antidote, Hanson said, is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). “Easy ways to light up the PNS include l-o-n-g exhalations, relaxing the tongue, warming the hands (or imagining that they are warm, like holding a cup of cocoa), and relaxing the body as a whole.”
  • Emotions: Encourage positive emotions by focusing on and savoring all the positive experiences associated with the holidays. Spending a minute or so relishing these experiences helps them enter our long-term emotional memory and sink in, Hanson said.
  • Thoughts: This time of year our heads are swirling with shoulds and musts.We know how detrimental these thoughts can be. Hanson encourages readers to return to “the simple truth that in this moment, each moment, you are actually basically alright; the simple fullness of being in the present, not regretting the past or worrying about or planning the future.”
  • Actions: “Slow down and do less,” Hanson said. “Keep coming back to your breathing as you look for gifts, do dishes, wrap presents, or visit friends.” Remember that others may be struggling during the holidays, too, so be kind and compassionate. Also, consider “giving the gift of your full attention to others, rather than being distracted by your to do list; or the gifts of forgiveness, gratitude, and wholeheartedness.”

Rick Hanson, Ph.D, a neuropsychologist and author of Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time, suggested readers pay attention to their body, emotions, thoughts and actions.