I start looking forward to the holiday season in January. From Christmas carols and twinkly lights to baking cookies and spending time with relatives who live far away, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. But this busy season can also take its toll. With schedules jam-packed with holiday parties, shopping for gifts, and travel, we may have too little time left over for taking care of our emotional and physical health. Whether it’s sugar overload, not enough sleep, or a little too much family togetherness, chances are you may have had moments of feeling irritable and anxious this holiday season. These three techniques from Dr. Martin Rossman’s book The Worry Solution are quick, simple, and effective for cultivating a sense of calm among the season’s frenzy. Here’s to a peaceful and stress-free holiday!
- Take deep breaths. Rossman explains that taking conscious control of your breathing is one of your most important tools against tension. Take some deep “belly breaths,” letting your belly stick out when you breathe in. This signals your body to switch out of “stress mode” and into “no worries” mode.
- Relax your muscles. When muscles are tense, they accumulate lactic acid, which raises our sense of stress and anxiety. The good news? You can consciously relax your muscles so that they clear lactic acid—making you feel calmer. Try closing your eyes and mentally scanning each muscle group in your body. Gently invite each muscle to relax. You will be surprised how quickly your muscles respond to mental instruction.
- Visualize calmness. Yes, daydreaming has physiological and emotional benefits! According to Rossman, closing your eyes and mentally picturing yourself in a place that is beautiful, calm, and safe can help you recharge during a busy day and sends an “all-clear” message to your brain. Whether you are envisioning a deserted island, a favorite childhood vacation spot, or just your own bedroom free of your pinging Blackberry, this can be a real place or a location you’ve made up. The important thing is to spend several minutes paying close attention to all the details—sights, sounds, smells—of this peaceful place.