Five Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

Holidays are often the most stressful time of the year. Here are some of my favorite tips to rein in the holiday stress machine. What are some of your tips? Share them with us in the comment section below.


Lower the bar on expectations--Our expectations have been unnaturally shaped by sites such as Pinterest and Facebook. Try lowering the bar this year on decorations and holiday preparations and regain your sense of control.

Embrace both gratitude and grief--We often forget that the holiday season is laden with emotions that can comprise grief and gratitude both for ourselves and our patients. Practice self-compassion by engaging in journaling, art, meditation or self-care activities.

 Delegate or Delete--Look over your to-do list and choose one item that you can either delete or delegate to someone else.

 Practice the fine art of saying “no” -- Demands for our time and energy can derail even the most effective strategy for stress reduction, holidays may exacerbate our feelings of obligation.  Remember "No" can be a complete sentence.

Engage in mindfulness--Mindfulness simply means pausing in the present moment to actually notice thoughts, emotions and sensations. Try pausing amidst the busyness to notice the present, not the past or the future.

Making a Difference with a Bowl of Soup

As I continue exploring the qualities of connection with the ubiquitous comfort food, soup, my friend Wendy gifted me with an extraordinary book. Soup for Syria began as a grassroots humanitarian project to aid Syrian refugees. Acclaimed chefs from around the world have lent their favorite soup recipes to this cause. Since Soup for Syria was published in 2016, more than $300,000 has been donated in the form of aid to directly assist Syrian refugees. In our turbulent times, we often struggle to find ways to make a difference -- here is a one way...with a simple bowl of soup. 

I encourage you to check out this amazing book filled with recipes and photographs that span cultures and bridge our shared humanity through the universal sharing of one bowl of soup at a time.

Comfort by the Bowl

Last month I invited readers to share soup recipes as a way of connection during the cold, darkness of winter. I have been overwhelmed with responses! The process of making soup, the slow cooking, the simplicity of ingredients, the ability to pause and savor, make soup the ideal mindful food. Soup is also part of our collective cultures, it gives us sustenance and connects us when the world feels very divided. I am grateful to my friend Karen for sharing her wonderfully satisfying Chicken and Kale Soup. In the spirit of mindfulness she remarks, "The more you gently simmer it, the tastier it will become"  Enjoy mindfully and keep those recipes of comfort and connection coming!


Ingredients for One Full Soup Pot

Olive oil

2 large, chicken breasts, with skin and bones

6-8 Celery stalks, leaves included

1 large yellow onion

Big handful of fresh parsley

Ground black pepper, about 2 teaspoons (we like it spicy, less if desired)

Thyme (2 -3 teaspoons dried), lots, if fresh, remove little leaves from stems

3 boxes of chicken broth

1 1/2 pound of carrots (about) sliced into rounds

Several large bunches of washed kale.  Remove leafy parts from thickest stems and chop, not too finely


Wash, dice/chop onion, celery, parsley, thyme

Drizzle olive oil into soup pot, enough to cover bottom of pot and a bit more

Saute chopped onions, celery, parsley, thyme, ground black pepper in oil

Stir frequently

When ingredients are thoroughly sauted, add the chicken breasts to pot

Stir the ingredients while continuing to saute, turning chicken breasts frequently to 

mix with the celery, onion, herbs

When the chicken breasts begin to brown, add one box of chicken stock, or more, so as to barely cover the chicken with stock

Stir the pot, so chicken stock mixes in with everything else

Bring pot to simmer, add two other boxes of chicken stock

Simmer gently until the chicken meat is cooked and tender 

Remove the chicken breasts, let cool enough to removed meat from the bones

Return the chicken meat to the gently simmering pot

Add carrot rings to soup

Add chopped kale to soup

Simmer gently until the carrots are tender

Soup is ready!  Enjoy!  The more you gently simmer it, the tastier it will become!

Serve with some sort of artisan/tasty bread. We like to have St Andre cheese for the bread, or some type of chedder


Let's Meet 2017 with Hygge and Mindful Soup

A new year is unfolding....

 I have been considering how we create comfort during  challenging times, apparently I am not alone in the urge to cocoon. I recently read an article in the New York Times on the Danish concept of hygge (pronouned HOO-gah) which is an all encompassing way of embracing coziness and warmth -- body, mind and spirit. In considering this concept, I was drawn to one of the comments I received in November when I asked readers what they wished they had had when they were caregivers to loved ones who were seriously ill...I received a response that was profound in its simplicity and simply stated "I needed soup" (thank you LL). Yes! Exactly! That's hygge! 

What better way to comfort ourselves during challenging times than with a bowl of hearty soup. Soup exemplifies the tenants of does not have to have perfect or expensive ingredients, it can't be rushed, you need to turn the high heat down and let it simmer (as with our thoughts in meditation) and it soothes and warms the body, mind and spirit from the inside out. 

So this January to help you get started in the practice of hygge...let's share soup together. While it may be impossible to physically gather around a table in my house or yours, I invite you to join me and others in a virtual sharing of soup.  I will be posting soup recipes throughout the month of January and would love your contributions. You may either post them directly in the comment section of the blog posts or you may email them to me ( I will post them on the Stress Resources blog. Do you have a story that goes with a recipe...share it with us! I hope that the recipes will connect and inspire us all to practice hygge this January.

To get us started, here is a favorite recipe of mine...enjoy!


Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, diced

3 stalks of celery, chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T butter

1/2 t dried basil

1/2 t dried oregano

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

24 oz egg noodles

In a 6 quart crockpot add in whole chicken breasts, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, olive oil, butter, basil, oregano. Next add in chicken broth, water and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low hear for 6-7 hours

Remove cooked chicken breasts and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place chicken back into the slow cooker. Now add in egg noodles. Cover and cook just until noodles are tender.