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No one wants to admit that they struggle with feeling lonely or sad during the holidays or that stress and anxiety hinder their ability to fully enjoy the season. It's a reality that many Americans face and a yearly cycle that can be challenging to break.

Pandit Dasa
Pandit Dasa Pandit Dasa

According to a survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, 41% of adults surveyed say that their stress levels increase during the holiday season. During what is celebrated as one of the "happiest times of the year," many suffer from depression and loneliness.

It's no surprise that lingering feelings connected to the COVID pandemic have left many people dangling between heightened fears of isolation and seasonal blues. Add to this the financial stress around the holidays, and the mixture is toxic.

Pandit Dasa, a keynote speaker on workplace culture, mindful leadership and mental health, understands the stress many face during the holiday season. He says that three of the most prevalent categories of holiday stress and where we should spend the most time practicing mindfulness are the workplace, finances and personal life.


The future of work culture success hinges on a company's ability to create an inclusive environment, especially during the holidays. Dasa points to mindfulness to find balance within the workplace.

"Mindfulness is a great practice that can help us raise our self-awareness in the workplace and be more accommodating to our colleagues. People can no longer live in silos. Connection is a critical part of a successful workplace culture. When employees feel like they belong to a community, it's easier to navigate the stress and anxiety associated with loneliness, especially during the holidays." - Pandit Dasa

As social beings, we are wired for connection. This doesn't mean everyone craves connection, given unique personalities and temperaments, but having a desire to belong is innate to most. When a sense of belonging is missing, it is often felt deeply.

According to Dasa, showing mindfulness to our colleagues means reaching out when someone seems withdrawn or despondent and letting them know that you're there for them. Intentionality is key, especially during the holiday season.

"People are often carrying a lot of weight that they're not comfortable sharing, but knowing that someone sees them can lift some of the burden and help them view circumstances from a different perspective." - Pandit Dasa

If you notice someone who appears lonely or detached, try engaging them in casual conversation or finding other ways to reach out so that they feel included. Even if they decline the offer, knowing that someone asked can still make them feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.


In America, holiday spending is expected to reach a record-breaking $942 billion to $960 billion in 2022. It's not surprising that money and spending are a big source of holiday stress. Thoughts about how much money you have in the bank for presents to what you're going to spend can turn an otherwise happy holiday sour quickly.

Being mindful of our finances means we think before we spend. Impulse buying and overextending ourselves is a recipe for disaster. Dasa suggests the following tips for managing finances during the holidays in a healthy way:

  • Create a budget - Deciding what you can spend comfortably ahead of time puts buying power into your hands where it belongs. With nonstop product ads congesting your newsfeed and your list of gift recipients growing every year, feelings of overwhelm are always knocking on the door. Limit the pressure to buy by turning off social media and reducing the size of your gift-giving list.
  • Only buy what's useful - Purchases can be divided into two categories—needs and wants. Needs are those things that are necessary to function in life like food, shelter and clothing. Wants are the desires we believe will improve the quality of our lives. Needs are easy to identify, but wants are more tricky. They're often impulse buys that are used a few times before ending up in our closet, under our beds or tucked behind an old waffle maker at the back of our kitchen cabinet. Just because something looks good doesn't mean it's good for you. Whether it's a gift for you or someone else, taking the time to pause before clicking the "buy" button can save you from regret later.
  • Ask first - Remember that you don't have to get everyone a gift, and that's okay. For those you choose to buy something for, consider asking them, "Is there something you need for Christmas?" By using the word "need" instead of "want", you are reframing the question to help guide their response to something needful. Often what they say they need can be less expensive than what you were planning to buy.

Managing finances during the holidays can be challenging, but when you have a plan in place and follow it, you set yourself up for greater success and less stress on the other side.

Personal Life

Feelings of loneliness are triggered by a lack of connection. Losing a loved one through a breakup, distance or death can squeeze the heart and cause ripple effects in other areas of our lives. The raw feelings associated with the disconnect are often magnified during the holiday season because everyone seems to be talking about family, relationships, parties, etc.

Dasa stresses that sitting at home alone, feeling lonely and depressed, is the last thing you want to do. We can't always change the circumstances that triggered the sad feelings, but we can shift our perspective by focusing on others.

An article by the American Psychological Association points to scientific research that says "high-quality close relationships and feeling socially connected to the people in one's life" can lower the risk of certain diseases.

"By focusing on others during the holidays," Dasa says, "you place the power of connection into your hands. Community doesn't always just happen. It's okay to create connections yourself."

As a former monk, Dasa says he has a unique perspective when it comes to the holidays. He believes that when we focus on selflessness, even during tough times, we can elevate how we view the world and become better human beings in the process.

He offers the following tips to help recalibrate your focus from inward to outward:

  • Focus on others - If there's a family member, neighbor or friend experiencing isolation, reach out to them, go see them, and talk to them. Being of service to others during the holiday season is more powerful than any physical gift you can give to anyone, including yourself.
  • Get out of the house - It may not fix the problem. But at least you're not sitting home thinking about everything. While being self-aware is important, focusing on being a part of the world around you, even a small part can help reduce the struggle of loneliness.
  • Join a group - Instead of scrolling through social media, join a social group, a reading group, an exercise group, or some kind of group. The idea is to put the power of connection into your hands so that you have a sense of belonging. Instead of passively leaning into the things you can't control, move toward changing your circumstances for the better.

Dasa believes that in a consumer-driven society, feelings of loneliness, stress, and anxiety can be lessened when approached strategically from a position of mindfulness. Although circumstances beyond our control can't always be changed directly, there are ways to manage them so that they don't overwhelm us. Mindfulness is the key to finding peace when you feel the most disrupted.

To learn more about Pandit Dasa and his approach to mindfulness in the workplace and beyond, visit his website,