Getting to Neutral for the Holidays
"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude."
~ Denis Waitley
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we all know the holidays can be a potentially stressful time of year. Unresolved, past issues tend to trigger anxiety, conflict, and resentment over past hurts. As you prepare to be with family, think about ways that can keep you in a state of peace. Here are a few tips that can help you stay centered during the holidays.
1. Meditate A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. "Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain's neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress," says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach. It's simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting -- out loud or silently -- a positive mantra such as "I feel at peace" or "I love myself." Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
2. Breathe Deeply Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. "Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure," psychologist Judith Tutin, PhD, says.
3. Be Present
"Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness," Tutin says. Notice how the air feels on your face when you're walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food. When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense. 4. Reach Out Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others -- preferably face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what's going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong. 5. Tune In Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels and slowing down your breath.
When you follow these five tips, you will feel more at peace, more centered and grounded, and ready to face the holidays with a more neutral frame of mind.