I hope you enjoyed a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Holiday. Did you venture out for the “Black Friday” shopping chaos? My Friday was low key and peaceful. It is difficult to imagine Christmas is a bit more than three weeks away! Yikes! Time flies! My advice, stay in the present and enjoy each moment as it unfolds. Embrace life as it happens.
The Holidays are meant to be a joyous time. They bring much happiness, but they can also increase our stress levels, bring anxiety and create more struggles. They can bring grief for various reasons. My Dad passed away in December several years ago. I know that feeling of sadness. He was a fantastic Dad. Everyone liked him. He always had great advice. I miss him. So how do we navigate the Holidays and maintain our mental health?
No matter how happy we are or how healthy we feel, the Holidays add a bit more stress for everyone. Things like more traffic, dealing with the shopping crowds, what to buy, where to spend the holidays or money issues can create anxiety. For some of us, the tension and pressures are increased for more troubling reasons. You are not alone. We can make it through this together with the love and support of friends, family and me. Money issues (such as spending too much) take some self-restraint and budgeting. If you require assistance, please reach out to a professional, a responsible friend or family member or me. If you are consistently spending beyond your means, expert advice would be a wise choice.
If you are dealing with issues; such as traffic, crowds, what gift to buy, money or where to spend the holidays; I want to offer some mental relief. Stress and anxiety can be released if you relax your mind with some simple exercises. Meditation and breathing exercises will assist you in relaxing your body and calming your mind. I meditate in the morning. Five minutes will set the tone for my day.
Meditation and breathing exercises can be done anywhere, including serene settings like the beach, a park, the desert or in the mountains. I suggest doing these in the comfort of your home or at a studio or fitness center. If you are desperately seeking to calm your mind, then by all means take a few minutes to do it. If you are on the road and not close to home, find a safe and secure place to park. First and foremost, always be safe. Keep your car doors locked.
The more grounded you are, with your butt on the earth, the better. Being out in nature is nice, but not always possible. If you are home, find a comfortable place to sit. Consider sitting on the floor, use a pillow or sit on the couch. You can do this outside in your back yard too. Sit up nice and tall with a straight back. No slouching. Use a wall or something rigid if necessary. Again, this is yours to experiment with and determine what space is best for you. Once you are comfortable, without distractions, close your eyes. Relax your body and allow your shoulders to drop (relaxing them down your back). We tend to hold tension and stress in our shoulders and neck. This is a great place to begin your release. Focus on your inhalations and exhalations as you continue to relax and clear thoughts from your mind. Breathe slowly and count to four with your inhales. Hold here for one count, then exhale with a four count. As you begin to relax, extend your exhale count to six. Remember, focus on slow deep breathing. Allow your thoughts to clear from your mind. Relax. Begin with several minutes. Increase the time when you can and build your meditation practice. Lots more on this in the coming weeks.
Breathing slowly relaxes the mind and stimulates the Vagus nerve. This reduces your heart rate and blood pressure. Slow Deep Breathing activates the Vagus nerve enough to act as a break to the stress response. The nerve runs from neck to abdomen, both on the right and left side. It is referred to as the mind – body connection. It is part of the parasympathetic nervous system: rest and digest system. It conserves energy, slows heart rate, increases digestion. The Sympathetic nervous system: fight or flight / do something / preps body to react to stress (threat or injury), increase heart rate and contracts the muscles. Both are part of the Autonomic nervous system. Take advantage of the natural body functions that bring us peace of mind. It only takes a few minutes to relax.
The holidays are a time to be Grateful! We are blessed with so much. Even among the difficulties of life, we have much to be grateful for. I thank God and the universe every morning when I wake up. I remind myself how grateful I am for so many amazing things in my life. The first is life itself, family, friends and so much more. Gratitude is an amazing emotion of appreciation. Experience it daily! Relax and enjoy the Holidays as much as possible; one day at a time.
Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more! EMDR therapy works.
Thanks for your love and support! Embrace life. Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!!