We all know that managing our stress is important on a day-to-day basis, but during the holiday season when stress levels can be at their highest and quiet time can be at its lowest, it becomes even more vital and challenging.
Too much stress not only contributes to high anxiety, but it also weakens the immune system, disrupts hormones, impairs digestion and absorption of nutrients, makes candida and other microbes proliferate, leads to cravings for sugar and carbs or drugs and alcohol, burdens the adrenal glands, causes depression, and exacerbates any health condition that may exist, all of which can put a real damper on the holiday spirit.
Ironically, the time of year that is supposed to bring us an abundance of joy and peace appears to do the exact opposite for many people. One survey found that 88 percent of the respondents feel the holidays are the most stressful time of year.
Fortunately, reducing stress does not have to be time-consuming or difficult, even a few minutes here and there can be greatly beneficial. Here’s a couple of simple, yet powerful, techniques taken from my own personal vault that can be done no matter where you are, even when you are short on time, that will provide instant relief.
It’s more effective if you can do each of these techniques in complete silence, but not absolutely necessary.
1. Close Your Eyes and Breathe Deep
As soon as we close our eyes, the brain begins to slow down and the production of alpha brain waves begins immediately. Alpha brain waves increase the production of calming neurotransmitters like Gaba, serotonin, and endorphins, which turn off the stress response system, generate a state of relaxation and inner peace, improve mood, reduce pain, incite creativity, and produce mild euphoria. Additionally, too much visual stimuli is a form of stress, so when the eyes are closed, it gives the brain a break from this stimulation.
So close your eyes gently. Not too tight. Hold them still, but not rigid.
Close your mouth.
Take in a long, slow, deep, and controlled breath in through your nose and from your abdomen.
And breathe out through your nose in a slow and controlled manner, keeping your mouth closed.
Repeat with another deep breath in through the nose and out through the nose with your mouth closed, in a long, slow, deep, and controlled manner.
Bring your awareness to your right eyeball for a few seconds and then your left eyeball, as if you are using them as a focal point for meditation or gently massaging them with your mind’s eye. You may not be aware of it, but we carry a lot of our tension in our eyeballs, so relaxing them calms the entire body.
Sit quietly with a gentle focus on your eyeballs and breathe in through the nose and out through the nose in a slow, deep, and controlled manner for as long as you prefer.
If this is all you have time for, then it is sufficient, and you can stop at this point. However, you can heighten your relaxation and increase your benefits by continuing below with the next step.
2. Relax Your Tongue
This technique can be done as a standalone practice or added to the previous technique above.
Close your eyes and your mouth.
Take in a long, slow, deep, and controlled breath, in through the nose and out through the nose and pulling from the belly. Repeat.
Relax your chin, then the left side of your jaw, and the right side of your jaw.
Become aware of your tongue. Let your tongue sit comfortably in your mouth in its natural resting position behind your teeth. Don’t force it into a particular position, just let it go where it falls naturally.Again, you may not realize it, but your tongue holds a lot of stress and tension, and it is connected to your center. So when you relax your tongue, it radiates out into the spine, flows down through the center of your body, and into every fiber of your being.
So just sit with your awareness on your tongue for a moment as if you are using it as the focal point of a meditation and scan it with your mind’s eye. Feel the relaxation run down through your center and into the rest of your body.
Pause here for a few seconds in this state with your awareness on your tongue.
Take another deep breath in through the nose and out through the nose and pulling from the belly in a slow and controlled manner. One more time, a deep breath in through the nose and out through the nose in a slow and controlled manner.
You may repeat or stop whenever you prefer.
Holiday Stress Relief Anytime Anywhere
As you can see, these are quick and easy techniques that can be done numerous times throughout the day, whenever you can steal just a couple of minutes of alone time. It can be done in the kitchen standing at the stove while stirring your gravy, in the car after you shop but before you begin to drive, in the bathroom, the pantry, the escalator or elevator, at your desk, and standing in line at the store.
If you’re in a place where closing your eyes is not possible, the deep breathing and tongue relaxation can be used by themselves no matter where you are.
Of course, these techniques don’t have to be reserved for holiday stress, they can and should be practiced at any time of year on a regular basis. I use each of these techniques in my own life yearly and daily to manage my stress and anxiety. If neither of these is your cup of tea, you can find 30 more techniques by clicking here.
If you need a more personal touch, contact me today for a one-on-one coaching session to take charge of your healing journey and design a strong self-care plan to alleviate stress and anxiety and elevate your health and well-being so you can be more of who you want to be and live a more fulfilled life.
How about you? Do you have a favorite stress management technique that you use during the holidays or any other time of year you’d like to share below?