Managing stress is an important part of optimizing one’s health 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. Too much stress 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 anxiety, and exacerbates any health condition that may exist, all of which can put a real damper on the holiday spirit.
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 simple, yet powerful, techniques that can be done no matter where you are, even when you are short on time, that will provide instant relief.
1. Close Your Eyes
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 production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, which generates a state of relaxation and inner peace, improves mood, reduces pain, incites creativity and a 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. Sit quietly like this as long as you prefer. It’s more effective if you can do this in complete silence, but not absolutely necessary. If this is all you have time for, then that is sufficient, but you can increase your benefits by continuing below.Put your focus on your right eyeball for a few seconds and then your left eyeball, as if you are using them as a focal point for a meditation.Take in a deep breath through your nose and from your abdomen. Your mouth should be shut. Breathe out in a slow and controlled manner through your nostrils, keeping your mouth closed. As you breathe out, imagine that your breath is flowing down through the center of your body and out through your fingers and toes; and as it leaves, it carries your stress and tension away. Repeat the deep breath a couple times.You can stop at this point or you can heighten your relaxation by adding the following step.
2. Relax Your Tongue
With your eyes and mouth still closed, 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.
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 awareness on your tongue for a moment as if you are using it as the focal point of a meditation and feel the relaxation run down through your center and the rest of your body.(pause for a few seconds in this state)While remaining focused on your tongue, take in a deep breath in through the nose and from the abdomen, and when you breathe out imagine your breath is flowing down through the center of your body and out through your fingers and toes. Feel your stress and tension moving out into the Universe like a wave.Again, another deep breath in through the nose and when you breathe out, feel your breath flow down through the center of your body and out through your fingers and toes. You may repeat or stop whenever you prefer.
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 for 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, and standing in line at the store. If you’re in a place where closing your eyes is not possible, the tongue relaxation can be used by itself no matter where you are, even driving your car. Of course, these techniques don’t have to be reserved for holiday stress, they can be practiced at any time of year. If neither of these is your cup of tea, you can find 30 more techniques here.
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?