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To minimize the stress that can accompany holiday shopping and events, focus on the “power of the breath,” said Darshan Mehta, medical director at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

■  “When you notice yourself getting flustered, observe it,” Mehta said. “Take a breath. It breaks the automatic pattern that’s about to happen.”

■  Take a pause, or “mini relaxation.” Count upward to 10, hold the breath and exhale using a chosen phrase (e.g., “love”).

■  Be aware of your own physical limits. To avoid lower back pain (from carrying bags and big gifts), pay attention to when you need a break. Even walking through a mall can be meditative.

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■  Defusing anxiety is about self-care and self-compassion. “The holidays are all about the ways we care for others,” Mehta said, “but the best way we can take care of others is by taking care of ourselves first.” Jill Radsken


Jill.Radsken can be reached at jill.radsken@globe.com