The holidays are such a stressful time of year, because in addition to everything you normally have to do, suddenly there are so many more expectations. Some of them are pleasant, such as having more parties to attend or trips planned, and some are simply extra work involving locating gifts and cooking food.

Meditative techniques are a great way to de-stress and recharge, especially during a period when you feel you can’t afford to. You are sending your body and mind a message when you put off your to-dos and take care of yourself–that your health, well-being, and emotional experience are more important than your to-do list.

Since end of the year holidays also coincide with the New Year, why not use meditation at this time as an opportunity to set intentions for the New Year?

Remember that we are more likely to manifest our dreams when we have clear intentions, and these directed intentions are best produced in a relaxed states.

There are so many different meditative and visualization techniques that choosing a given technique can be overwhelming. It can be helpful to try a different one each day with the same goal in mind or just use only one for an extended period of time. Here is one technique to focus on for the holidays.

Think of one New Year’s resolution that you would like to achieve in the coming year and make sure it’s an easy one. If you have a lofty goal in mind, make your resolution a small achievable step toward that goal. So if you want to lose weight, for instance, your goal might be to eat one vegetable snack per day in place of junk food snacks.

Now that you have your intention firmly in mind, get into a comfortable position in a quiet place, either sitting or lying down. I like to incorporate aromatherapy into just about everything I do, so I recommend using a product like Clear My Head which is a mixture of essential oils, and I place that under my nose where I can breathe in the scent easily. Another option is to use lavender oil.

Starting with your toes and ending with your scalp, slowly relax each part of your body. Breathe deeply and slowly, feeling the air move in and out of your belly, which should be filling up fully.

Once you have relaxed your muscles entirely, began to count from 10 to 1 (a self-hypnosis technique, by the way), allowing yourself to relax further with each number you count.

When you have relaxed fully after the countdown, imagine your goal as a reality. See yourself clearly doing what you would like to do or clearly having what you would like to have. In your mind or out loud, acknowledge what you are observing clearly as if it is happening (this is also known as an affirmation). When visualizing, always keep yourself open to all possibilities and acknowledge that things might not manifest exactly how you picture them in your visualization.

If you have doubts or experience contradictory thoughts during your meditative visualization, do not resist them, since resistance only gives them more intention and power. Simply acknowledge your thoughts and return to those with a positive focus.

This meditation can last anywhere from five minutes to half an hour. I think it’s best in the beginning to stay focused on one goal per meditation.