Meditation

Stress and the Holidays

The holidays bring up such mixed emotions – there’s joy and hope…and there’s stress and sadness.

When I taught a class on managing holiday stress, participants gave me a long list of stressors that include worries about budget and creating a “perfect” holiday, and feeling sad when remembering loved ones who won’t be here this year.

Find Balance and Watch your Budget

Class members had plenty of ideas for reducing holiday stress.  They want to set realistic expectations, create a better balance between personal time and social time, and spend more time with supportive people.  Some people talked about reducing financial worries by changing some of their family traditions; instead of buying gifts for everyone in the family, they will have a white elephant exchange or arrange for secret Santa gifts, so that each person only buys one gift.

Stress Reduction Tips

During the holidays, more than at other times, it’s important to manage your stress.  This is the time for deep breathing exercises (breathe in for 3 counts, hold for 2, breathe out for 3 counts).  Progressive muscle relaxation is super helpful. Sit in a chair with your eyes closed.  Tense your right fist; let go.  Tense your whole right arm; let go. Do the same on the left side.  Then scrunch up your face and hold it tight; let go.  Tense your shoulders and your chest; let go.  Tense your stomach muscles; let go.  Tense your thighs and calves; let go.  Tense your toes; let go.

As members of my class completed  the exercise and opened their eyes, the energy in the room became light and peaceful.

Help Yourself to Help Others

So, first take care of yourself during the holidays. Then help others.  If you take time to volunteer or collect toys to donate, you’ll feel the joy of giving.  Plus, when we change the focus from materialism, we reap the benefits of feeling the spirit of the holiday season.

Your Rights

Remember:  You have the right to enjoy the holidays and even buy a gift for yourself.  You are also entitled to feel all your emotions – from happy to sad.  You don’t need to attend every party and eat all the food offered to you.  You can design the holiday you want to enjoy.  Make some new traditions.  What can you do differently this year?

Breathe In, Breathe Out. Meditation Works!

In my coaching practice I’m seeing a trend.  Many of my clients tell me they can’t stop thinking.  Their minds are racing or going in circles.  And concentration is difficult.

What they want is to clear their minds and feel calm.  There are lots of reasons that our minds race.  Fortunately, there are proven ways to calm the mind and to feel peaceful and focused.

The main “tool” I recommend to others and the tool I use myself is meditation.  I’ve found that listening daily to 3-minute guided meditations is easy, practical and effective.  You can find them online.  One of my favorite sites is www.headspace.com.  If you look under apps on your cell phone, you’ll find lots of options.  My book also contains a helpful meditation.  Combine your meditation with a daily walk, and I promise that after a week or so, you’ll feel more positive about life and happier.  It’s all about the breath.  Focused breathing is the panacea.

Just look at psychology publications to see what researchers have found.  Studies show meditation:

  • Reduces stress
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves self-awareness
  • Increases self-acceptance
  • Increases happiness (this is connected to self-awareness and acceptance)
  • May reduce age-related memory loss
  • Increases relaxation and causes blood pressure to drop
  • Improves the immune system and reduces inflammation
  • Increases a sense of connection to others
  • Makes you more compassionate

So, if you want to improve your life, breathe deeply and meditate daily.