The holiday season can be one of the most magical, connected times of the year as we celebrate with the people we love.

However, the lead-up to this period can be quite different. The stress of last-minute shopping, parties, school concerts, work projects, extra expenses and the preparation of Christmas food, can leave us feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and stretched in all directions!

To top it off, when we finally sit around the table on the big day, exhaustion, conflicting ideas, and family tensions can create a perfect environment for tempers to flare. Peace, joy, and goodwill are sometimes replaced by drama and regret.

Challenging times and conflict are wonderful opportunities for alchemy – it’s our chance to turn confusion into clarity; chaos into peace; and fear into love.

Here are three ways to help you have an enlightened holiday season:

1. Shift to Conscious Awareness

When you feel the tension increasing in your body and your mind racing due to the added pressures during this period, consciously refocus your attention. When we are tense or stressed out, most of our energy is in our head. This happens as our mind is consumed or overwhelmed with thoughts.

Refocus your attention: think of your feet firmly planted on the ground drawing up supportive earth energy and focus your attention on your abdomen. Nourish this power center with love. Then, observe your thoughts and emotions with awareness.

Unobserved thoughts and emotions can create unconscious behavioral patterns, creating situations we don’t want. So rather than allowing them to control you, you are in control of them by choosing your behavior and thoughts.

2. Make Conscious Decisions

Conscious awareness allows you to not only observe your inner world objectively (thoughts, emotions, and behavioral patterns), but also to observe your outer world more from a state of peace, grace, and love.

This loving state allows you to make intuitive decisions that are right for you while engaging in life with honesty and integrity. When you make heartfelt, loving decisions around finances, relationships and where you spend your time, you are in a state of flow.

3. Be Consciously Present

Observe all tensions and reactions in the body with acceptance and love. If the feelings are intense, it is because a chemical reaction is occurring in the body and it has switched to fight or flight survival mode to protect itself from the perceived danger.

To return to a state of peace and harmony, breath into the feeling to lessen the intensity. Then observe it with love. Our challenging emotions are part of who we are too. When we accept, validate and love them, rather than fighting against them, negative energy can be diffused.

As we accept all of ourselves, including our reactive nature (our ego), we are transformed into a state of oneness or enlightenment as we integrate our light and shadow. This, in turn, flows on to accepting others with compassion and love – the true spirit of the holiday season.

The challenges of the holidays can provide wonderful opportunities for growth and transformation. Past stressful situations can be opportunities to create the greatest joy as we reconnect to our true divine loving nature.

Allow this to be your most enlightened holiday season yet!

Like many, you may be experiencing a few anxieties around this time of year. However, despite the stresses, there’s often a moment that makes us feel magical and sentimental, no matter how young or old we are. This moment might be due to the excitement of Christmas, or as a result of reconnecting with family.  Share what your “moment” is below and spread the feeling of enlightenment.

Guide to Inspired Life