You know you feel it: That little touch of panic that hits about—now. It’s December, which means the holidays and all that they entail (perfect gifts, drunken relatives, ugly sweater parties, getting your work done so you can actually go to the parties) are all dialed up to 11. But it needn’t be that way. There are so many meaningful and unique ways to take a break in this city. Here are a few of our favorites.
Every Thursday afternoon from 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. the Hammer Museum hosts free Mindful Awareness sessions in the Billy Wilder Theater. You are guided in meditation by Diana Winston (and other instructions) from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. You and other stressed out souls can tune in and tune out the outside world—for a half an hour, anyway. There’s $6 parking underneath the museum. > 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood
Take a break from the crowds at The Grove and walk across the street (S. Grove Drive) to the extremely moving Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, located in Pan Pacific Park. Every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., a survivor talks about his or her wartime experience and hosts a Q & A afterwards. Bring Kleenex. Stick around to tour the well-thought out, interactive museum, which opens with photographer Barbara Mack’s black and white portrait exhibit “Survivors and What They Carry.” (on display until Jan 3, 2017). There are self-guided audio tours available. > 100 S. Grove Dr., Fairfax
Get a two-fer with these exquisite chamber music concerts in historic venues all over the city put on by The Da Camera Society of Mount Saint Mary’s University. Listen to the Hermitage Piano Trio in the Doheny Mansion, a little Medieval Christmas music at the Bradbury Building, or a piano trio at Castle Green in Pasadena. There are often tours of the venues before or after concerts. The season kicks off December 3 and it includes concerts in the Central Library Rotunda and outdoors at TreePeople’s leafy hideaway off Mulholland Drive. > Various locations
Yoga. With cats! It’s too, too good. Do a downward dog with adoptable cats at the homey Best Friends NKLA Pet Adoption Center during one of their ME-OM yoga classes. When you sign up, you get an hour-long beginner class ($20) filled with adoptable kitties the do-gooders are trying to socialize. All of them need forever homes. The next class is December 3 at 12 p.m.; Keep a watch on the site for more dates. > 1845 Pontius Ave., Sawtelle
It’s hard to hate a musical whose theme is “when you can’t sleep count your blessings instead of sheep.” You will forget any worries watching the stage adaption of Irving Berlin’s singing and dancing ode to the season at the Pantages (you watch the movie every Christmas, right?). The production is full of incredible songs, sparkly snowflakes, dresses with Santa fringe, big tap-dancing production numbers, and snow falling inside the theatre. The show closes on Sunday, December 4, so get your Christmas fix tout suite. Browse tickets here. > 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Relax your brain waves with oodles of gongs and quartz crystal singing bowls played by Biologist-turned-healer Jamie Ford. Bring a mat, lay down, throw a lavender pillow over your eyes, and let the sound wash over you. There are one-hour group sessions you can do over lunch (here’s the schedule), one-and-a-half hour Winter Solstice sessions, or book a private bath. If you’ve ever bumped into someone after one of these things, you know there’s something to it. Find the December schedule here. > 4688 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock
L.A. is rich in art deco buildings. Why not have someone who knows what they’re talking about give you all the history? The L.A. Conservancy provides tours for just that sort of thing. Sign up, meet in Pershing Square on Saturdays at 10 a.m., and gawk for two-and-a-half hours of Jazz Age gorgeousness in DTLA. Old world glam will only cost you $15 for non-members ($10 for Conservancy members). > Olive and 6th Sts., Downtown
Kari Mozena is the Special Projects Manager at Los Angeles magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karimozena. She wrote The Complete List Of All The Best Black Friday Deals.