The holidays have got me incredibly stressed. How can I get more Zen?
As to-do lists grow and calendars fill up, it's easy to think there simply isn't enough time for any relaxation-inducing tactics. But the irony is that the busier you are, the more you need to find ways to manage your stress. Luckily, taking even a few seconds for a deep breath or a simple stretch can have a big impact on your overall well-being. It's easier than you might think. Here's my list of four simple mind-body practices you can do in even the most jam-packed day to stay calm during the holiday hubbub:
1. Treat overeating with awareness. When another piece of pie starts calling your name, take just a few seconds to place one hand on your stomach and draw a deep breath. This simple action turns your attention away from your thoughts which are likely telling you another piece of pie is a fabulous idea to your body, which is where your deeper wisdom resides. As you breathe, ask yourself, "What am I truly hungry for?" If it's food, go ahead and savor every bite. But don't be surprised if you discover what you're really craving is a nap, a hug, or some quiet time.
2. Turn offenses into opportunities. The holidays mean lots of time spent with family, which means lots of opportunities for tense moments. Instead of coping by overeating or drinking too much, make a sanity-saving plan for family gatherings by figuring out what triggers your stress reaction the most whether it's the way your Uncle Bob asks about your love life, your mom's comments on your hair, or your grandmother picking her teeth at the table. When one of your triggers happens, use it as a reminder to take one full, deep, mindful breath. You'll trigger your relaxation response and give yourself a moment to gather your thoughts before you respond.
3. Rejuvenate, naturally. Lots of social events means less sleep. Instead of relying solely on caffeine to get you through the next party, spend five minutes lying on the floor with your legs resting on a wall: Sit on the floor with one hip and shoulder touching a wall. Bend your knees and roll into a fetal position on your side, so only your feet and seat are touching the wall. Finally, roll on to your back and straighten your legs up so that they rest against the wall. Stay in this position for up to five minutes, breathing naturally. Getting your legs above your head is restful to your heart. This pose is restorative and subtly energizing. It also feels great as rejuvenating as a nap in only a few minutes.
4. Press away the pain. Too much eggnog is a surefire recipe for a hangover headache. When you notice the first stirrings of a headache, apply pressure to a point in your hand that is associated with relief of headaches in traditional Chinese medicine. To find the point, extend all five fingers of your left hand with your thumb nestled in next to your index finger at the point located at the base of the small mound of flesh at the bottom of the crease between your thumb and index finger. Gently squeeze this spot between your right thumb and index finger and hold for several breaths, then repeat on the right hand.