Holiday Tree

Are you someone who, like many of us, swears that the holiday season will be different…this time you’ll be calmer and less stressed? But as the days get shorter and you-know-what is right around the corner, do you feel the cold fog of holiday dread creeping in? Don’t panic. Here are simple tips to help you make it through feeling more balanced, less frantic and serene.

B-R-E-A-T-H-E! Treat yourself to 5 blissful slow, deep breaths. Pay attention to each inhalation (which energizes) and exhalation (which relaxes). Enjoy a few rounds of conscious deep breathing several times a day.

Shrug it off. Stuck on the holiday treadmill? Find a quiet place (bathroom, bedroom, closet, your car). Inhale as you raise your shoulders in an exaggerated shrug and silently say, “oh.” Exhale, drop your shoulders and silently say, “well.” A few rounds of “oh well breath” can help release those psychic holiday burdens. “Oh, well…”

E-Z neck stretches. The holidays can be a pain in the neck, literally and figuratively. We store a lot of tension in the neck, restricting muscles and causing headaches and fatigue. Try these neck stretches:

  • Inhale and as you exhale, turn your head slowly to the right, pause; inhale and return your head to center. Exhale, turn your head slowly to the left, pause. Inhale and return to center. Repeat for a few more rounds.
  • Head faces forward. Inhale, on the exhalation gently drop your right ear toward your right shoulder. Inhale and raise your head to center; exhale and gently drop your left ear toward your left shoulder; repeat several times on each side.
  • Inhale; on the exhalation, drop your chin toward your chest. Inhale, look up toward the ceiling; exhale and drop your chin. Repeat several more times.

Forward bend. An effective way to release tension is to bend forward. While seated in a chair, separate your legs more than hip-width apart; place your hands on your knees. Round your back, slowly lowering your head and upper body. (If you have high blood pressure or any eye issues, don’t let your head go lower than your heart.) Breathe. When you decide to come back up, make sure your head comes up last (so you won’t be any dizzier than you normally are this time of year!).

Smile. It’s amazing how quickly your mood can change if you turn up the corners of your mouth. You can smile anywhere, anytime (yes, even during the holidays). Smiling helps you feel better, costs nothing, you get to keep it and share it. Now, that’s a gift!

Be grateful. ‘Tis the season to be overwhelmed, overtired and overextended, which can make you overgrouchy. Take a few deep breaths and finish this sentence: I am grateful for __________________________.  Remember: Gratitude = Happiness.

This too shall pass. That is my favorite truism. When all else fails, close your eyes and repeat: “This too shall pass.” Someday it will be January.

So, there you are – breathing, relaxing, smiling, grateful and philosophical. The holidays? Bring ‘em on!