It is that time of year again. Holiday songs play on the radio, decorations fill the stores, advertisements sell a “happy home” with a Hallmark family around the dinner table. But the reality is that the holidays can be stressful.
Making travel arrangements or playing host requires a lot of effort and spending time with family can be challenging as old dynamics are replayed and not so pleasant memories uprooted. Some may be alone for the holidays which can also be trying.
No matter your situation, practicing self care techniques can be vital for getting through the holidays.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
1. Deep Belly Breathing. You can’t stay calm when breathing shallow or hyperventilating. Practice a few minutes of deep belly breathing to help relieve stress quickly. Simply place one hand on your belly as you sit up straight or as you lie down flat. Breathe in through the nose as you inhale. Fill the belly with breath as if it were a balloon and as you exhale, breathe out through the mouth and allow the belly to empty. Practice deep belly breathing before big events or gatherings so that you can use it readily should you find yourself triggered. In the moment, you can practice this breath for about 30-60 seconds to help ameliorate an emotional flare up by giving yourself a well needed pause.
2. Practice gratitude. Focus on the things you are grateful for. This can be as simple as being grateful for your next deep belly breath. Practicing gratitude is a quick and effective way to shift the worried, anxious mind to thoughts that are lighter.
There are a few ways to practice gratitude. I like to say aloud what it is that I am grateful for and why. For example, “I am grateful for my eyes, with them I can see all the beauty that exists in the world. I can see my son, I can drive and read. Thank you, thank you, thank you for my eyes and working vision.
3. Move your body. Doing some gentle yoga or stretching before and after travel and during the holidays can be a way to move stored energy in the body. If you have an exercise routine, do your best to maintain it. If you are traveling, take some time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and local sites. Get the blood flowing to help endorphin production spark an elevation in your mood.
4. Journal. Take some time to reflect on your feelings as you write them down. This allows for a safe space to channel any scattered or negative emotions. It can help you to see what is coming up while providing a road map to track mental patterns or habits.
5. Shift frequencies: Treat yourself to sound and vibrational healing. Sing and dance to your favorite music or bask in resonant healing frequencies that harmonize the body, mind and spirit. Sound medicine has roots in ancient cultures and is enjoying a resurgence today in the field of both alternative and conventional medicine. Energy work, such as Reiki, pairs well with sound technology. Healing frequencies initiate a frequency shift that will leave you calm and peaceful this holiday season.
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