With the holidays fast approaching and the year soon to end, this is a time of year where stress feels inevitable. The holidays are both joyous and stressful between buying gifts, booking flights, and preparing for family time. Between the nostalgia of going home and the stress of family feuding over politics or how to stack the dishwasher, things can get overwhelming when it comes to this time of year. So with all that stress, I wanted to extend an offer to find peace during this stressful season.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that can help us better connect to our bodies. For example, when we are overwhelmed or stressed, we trap that energy into our bodies. It can cause us to feel tense, make it difficult to breathe, and make us tired. When you can connect with your body, you can better understand how emotions and stress sit in your body and find tools that help ease those feelings. The mindfulness tools I will share with you are 4 for 4, counting to 10 and body scans.
Deep breathing can help settle your emotions, clear your mind, and help bring you back to the present. When you feel overwhelmed, fluttered, and struggling to feel calm, the 4 for 4 can help settle those emotions and bring you back to the present. The best thing about all of these tools is that you can do them anywhere. I like to do them in the car or right before a meeting. When you find a moment, find a comfortable position, whether that is standing or sitting. And take a deep breath for four seconds. Then you hold that breath for four seconds and then breath out for four seconds. This process will force you to focus on your breathing, bring down your heart rate and ease the tension from your body. Continue this process until you run out of time or feel settled. Like I said before, this exercise can be completed anywhere.
The second tool is counting to 10. While it seems like a given, it’s hard to remember to count to 10 in the heat of the moment. Counting to ten can allow your heart rate to regulate, offers you the opportunity to process some of your emotions, and can help you prepare your thoughts to have a more accurate response. Taking as short a time as 10 seconds for yourself can be so helpful and rejuvenating. Even just 10 seconds can be therapeutic.
The final tool is the practice of the body scan. The body scan can again be done anywhere, but I highly recommend doing it in the morning before you get up or right before bed before you go to sleep. Body scans will help you see where you hold tension in your body. The body scan is where you go from your head to your toes, checking in with your body. So you start at your head, asking yourself, “does my head feel heavy?” “Does my neck feel stiff, or does it feel loose?” When you identify how each body part feels, you can sit with the knowledge and slowly release those muscles. Continue this process until you get through your entire body. Doing this will allow you to become better acquainted with your body and a grounding technique to bring you into the moment and space.
I hope these techniques are helpful for you this holiday season. Taking time for yourself is both necessary and important. You are just as important as those around you, and the more time you take for yourself, the better equipped you will be for those stressful family interactions. I hope every one of you has a restful and joyous holiday season.