Transcend Your Holiday Stress November 20 2011

During this time of year, the stress of the upcoming holidays can seem daunting to some of us.  Here are a few tips that may be useful for finding that balance needed to have a healthy and happy holiday season.

First, whenever you begin to feel stressed, irritable, overly tired, or unsettled...stop yourself and breathe.  Take a few moments to recognize your mental and physical reactions.  The key word here is "feel."  When we observe our thoughts, our feelings, and how our body physically feels, we are being present in the moment and becoming self-aware.  Taking this time out is important to staying centered and remembering what is most important.  This is my favorite way of experiencing this process.  It only takes a few moments out of your day and makes such a tremendous difference.

  • Close your eyes and observe your breath.  Are you breathing?  How are you breathing?  Are you breathing with your shoulders?  Are you holding your breath?  These are common tendencies we experience when our mental and physical thoughts and actions are not relaxed and cause us tension.
  • Observe your body.  Are you "holding"?  This is the term I use for any areas in my body where I hold physical tension.  This can feel like a taut muscle, a slight ache, etc.  Locate these areas, visualize breathing deeply into them with each breath, then let them go. If you locate an area that just won't seem to release, try a few yoga postures.  You don't have to be on your feet.  They can be done in your chair, on the couch, wherever you like.  Putting in just a little extra effort can make a world of difference.
  • Observe your thoughts.  Are they anxious?  Do they include self-doubt?  Are you picking on yourself?  Or are they agitated and irritable?  Determine which thoughts may be causing suffering, then re-center and "re-mind" yourself.  This may include taking a moment to pray, think of someone you love, anything that brings you into the present with a clear and focused energy, without worrying about what needs to be done later.  Being present helps us to stay focused in our present task, but in a healthy and contented way. Remember, everything will get done and it all won't get done today :)  Observation is a large part of realizing that we are not our thoughts.

Second, find your balance.  Are you focusing all of your energy into one task?  Or, are you trying to juggle too many tasks at once?  Often, our other responsibilities and tasks can become unbalanced and too much or too little can add to our mental tension.  Following the above tips may help you to find your balance and transcend, finding a comfortable rhythm.

Have a wonderful holiday!