Monday, November 29, 2010

Relax into the Holidays!

Mind-Body Techniques for Minimizing Holiday Stress

I can hear your mental wheels turning right now. Relax into the holidays? Right! You’re thinking, holidays are anything but relaxing. They cause more stress than you can imagine! “Jan,” you say, “you must live on a different planet than I do, because I don’t think relaxation is even possible for me this time of year. AFTER the holidays, maybe, then we can talk.”

I’d like to help you shift your thinking on this, dear reader, as there is another way. You can create a new holiday mindset, one that enhances your health—body, mind and spirit. Despite what you might think (or have experienced in the past), relaxing into the E holidays is completely possible. But, like anything, it depends on how willing you are to change the way you do things.

Where to begin? By realizing that you are a “body/mind” human being. This means you accept full responsibility for what you think about, your emotional state, and the choices you make to act upon those thoughts and feelings. Understand that these choices will benefit or hinder your health. Your mind and body are directly connected; what affects one, affects the other, and stress does not enhance the well-being of either one, period. Emotional and mental stressors cause your body to break down, malfunction, or acquire dis-ease, short-term and long-term.

In very simple terms, the very best thing you can do for yourself is to begin making lifestyle choices that allow you to relax more and stress less. This is especially important at holiday times when there truly IS more to do, expectations are high, and the pace of life picks up considerably. Make positive choices for yourself ahead of time, before the holiday hype gets the best of you, and you will be able to relax into the holidays!

To help you get started, here are three of my favorite “Whole Health Enhancers,” sure-fire ways to minimize holiday stress and maximize your health—body, mind, and spirit!

1. Breathe

Several times a day, as often as you think of it, stop what you’re doing and breathe. Intentionally focus on your breath, the going in and the going out of it. Close your eyes and simply listen to your own breath as it passes through your nostrils, feel it moving through your body. Take deep and measured inhalations and exhalations. Consciously breathing /in and out allows the body to release any stress that might be building as you move through your day. Deep breathe at a stoplight or while standing in line at a store and notice how much better you feel. You can deep breathe anytime and anywhere; it’s portable and easy-to-use. And it’s free! That’s the magic of this stress reducer.

2. Bathe or Shower

Yes, you heard me right. A bath or shower harnessing nature’s healing power in the form of water can cure what ails you. Taking a hot soak or a steamy shower can literally drain the tension right out of you. Begin by bringing all of your mental attention to where you are, completely immersing yourself in the feeling of hot water on your skin and let go of all other thoughts. Visualize any tension or concerns literally sloughing off you, swirling down the drain. If you’re a tub gal, slide down deep so your ears are under the water. Then, just listen to your breathing and the gentle beating of your heart - a totally relaxing experience—one I go to again and again to release worrisome thoughts or bodily tension. Add Dead Sea Salts to your bath or lavender aromatherapy to your shower and you’ll experience even more relief.

3. Do What You Love

One of the biggest mistakes we make as the holiday season unfolds is to put ourselves and what we enjoy doing for our own well-being on the back burner in favor of other “more important” tasks. We stop exercising (no time), stop eating healthfully (so many holiday treats), stay up late (so much to do), and worry incessantly (so much to remember). We put our relaxing hobbies aside and focus on using our time productively.

In order to maintain “whole health,” it’s important that we remain balanced and include the activities in our daily routine that provide us with pure, personal pleasure. Like reading or knitting, Soduku, scrapbooking or listening to music. If these practices naturally relax you, keep doing them. Don’t let the “have to” or “should” messages take over and prevent you from doing what you love, even if it feels like there isn’t time during this extra busy period. Make time for them. Make time for YOU!

Remember, too, that we are creatures dominated by our senses. What we see, feel, hear, smell and taste contributes to our general well-being. Certain things create a specific response, either of enjoyment or irritation. Being aware of what these are for you is key to your well-being. For me, I’ve learned that my body/mind doesn’t like loud noise. The louder (and more repetitive) the noise, the more agitated I get. How do I apply that to my holiday routine? It means I don’t do crowded shopping malls, noisy restaurants or social gatherings. It means shopping at specialty stores, or on the internet, and spending as little time as possible in sense-assailing places. It is alright to honor yourself by making choices to eliminate agitators from your daily life. If they don’t feel great, don’t expose yourself to them!

Whatever brings your body/mind peace and joy, considerate it a gift you can give yourself again and again, not only during the holidays, but whenever the Spirit moves you. You truly can “believe, breathe and be well.”

My holiday newsletter will be sent out soon! 

Our theme? "Finding De-Light!"

Like last month's issue, "November Noticings," it will be practical spirituality at its finest, with informative articles, more "Whole Holiday" health tips, a "Challenge" for you, AND an original guided meditation to help you meet that Challenge.

If you don't receive this free newsletter, sign-up now through the Contact Box here. 

You won't want to miss a single issue!


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