The holiday season brings additional “To Do’s” to an already hectic schedule. It is too easy to forget to put ourselves on that list. What happens to our Ho! Ho! Ho! spirit when we are stressed out with saying yes to EVERYTHING, rather than a few no, no, no’s?
Here are a few helpful tips to lower stress while making sure you spend a little time self-caring at this time of the year. Your family will thank you. (Probably not, but at least they won’t complain if you are in a better mood.)
1. Take time to ask yourself what this time of the year is really about for you. Sometimes we get so caught up from an unconscious place in trying to make up for our own childhoods that we over-indulge our children and stretch our nerves and pocketbooks to the breaking point.
2. Breathing calms the survival reactive part of your brain that gets overstimulated this time of the year. When we are in that reactive state, everything becomes an emergency. These breathing techniques are helpful in calming the reactive brain and restoring you to the calmer brain:
a. Focused Breathing: this is to me the easiest. You just focus your attention on your breath. You don’t attempt to change it just notice it. Just noticing what your body is doing can shift your spinning mind into slowing down.
b. The Four-Seven-Eight Breathing: Breath in for a count of four hold for a count of seven and breath out for a count of eight. Do that three times. Check how you are feeling and repeat as needed.
c. Breathe out as much as you can then breathe in for a count of seven and out for a count of seven.
3. Moderate exercise also helps release the day’s tensions. I have found yoga to be very helpful to get the kinks out of a stressful day and lift my mood. Even a ten-minute walk can help reduce a bad mood.
4. Spend quiet time (even if it is for five minutes) to shut out all the outer demands and reconnect with your soulfull self.
5. A warm bath can work wonders to release muscle tension. Adding an essential oil like lavender or geranium can bring additional soothing to your fear receptive center in the brain (the amygdala).
6. Have your spouse or partner give you a good foot rub or go to the Spa and get a pedicure.
7. Get out in nature and get some Vitamin D with sunshine.
8. Take a few moments to feel gratitude for yourself and the love you have for your family and friends. Think about the kind things you have done for others during the year. Don’t fail to value and validate this soulfull gift of yourself you give all year.
9. For many, this is a religious holiday, so it is important to remember the reason for this season. Let your beliefs inspire you to keep a sense of the sacred and gratitude for this gift.
10. Challenge yourself by giving a gift in a loved one’s name to help a family purchase a pig, cow, or sheep to feed and make an income for their families. PLAN International USA offers this as well as other organizations. You can use this as an opportunity to reflect gratitude for what one has as well as helping others to help themselves.
These steps can help you re-connect to yourself. The one relationship we give the least to and the one that is the most essential to live a productive, loving and soulfull life is the one with our self.
This time of the year too many women are trying to make the picture postcard-Christmas magazine spread-type of holiday a lived experience. That is all well and good. Just make sure that you are not paying the cost of exhaustion and a bad attitude because of your expectations of yourself. Remember the best present you can give to anyone is your soulfull love, care, patience, and connection.