December has started: a month marked with celebration, family and special holiday rituals. With all the extra items on your to-do list, it’s easy to forget to care for yourself. When you open your heart, you not only show love for yourself—you also better prepare yourself to receive love from others. Here’s how.

1. FORGIVE EVERYONE, INCLUDING YOURSELF

The first step to opening your heart is to heal old wounds. Forgiveness can be challenging, but ultimately, it’s the only way to let go of the past and move on to a better future. Forgive those who hurt you, but also forgive yourself for your own mistakes. Does this sound easier said than done? Our exclusive video with expert Erica takes you through a yoga practice centred around forgiveness.

2. BE GRATEFUL

When we’re so busy doing everything we can to make sure our family has the best holiday possible, it’s a bit too easy to look around and see all the ways we don’t measure up. Stop comparing yourself to others and be thankful for everything you do have. Say thank you often, no matter how small the kindness.

3. KEEP GIVING

No, we’re not talking about gifts. If you wake up one day in December and are having trouble finding something to be grateful for, step outside yourself and give. It could be volunteering at a charity organization, or it could be something as simple as helping your neighbour get her groceries inside. The point is to do something selfless.

4. RECONNECT WITH SOMEBODY FROM THE PAST

Do you and your old university buddy only have contact through Facebook and the occasional e-mail? Why not invite her over for a cup of tea and really share the stories of your lives—not just the highlights everybody sees on social media? If you live too far apart to do this, a phone call with somebody who knew you in your formative years can also help to open your heart.

5. STRIKE A HEART-OPENING POSE

We’ve always believed that yoga has the ability to heal body and soul. But did you know that certain yoga poses are known to open your Anahata, otherwise known as the heart chakra? Cobra, Upward Facing Dog and Fish Pose are just a few examples of ways yoga can open your heart to give and receive more love. To learn more about the chakra system, read our expert article here.

6. LET YOUR INNER CHILD OUT TO PLAY

As adults, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed by everything that’s expected of us. Past experience may have taught us some harsh lessons, or we’re consumed with worry about the future. Children are immune to such concerns; their wonder and capacity for joy is infinite and helps them live in the moment. If we connect to that same energy, our heart will let go of prejudices and open up even more.

7. BE PASSIONATE ABOUT COMPASSION

We’ve saved the best for last. Practice compassion: towards others and towards yourself. Try to see others without judgment and overlook faults in favour of celebrating the goodness inside of people. Nothing opens your heart faster than allowing it swell up with understanding. An added bonus: it tends to silence your own inner critic.

Take the time to practice these 7 things and your heart will be ready to give and receive more love this holiday season. We hope you also carry them into the new year, and eventually turn them into daily rituals that keep your heart open all year long.

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