The Holidays can be exhausting. Wonderful, yes, but the juggling that you have to manage can be overwhelming and can make you want to throw in the towel and hide under your favorite Christmas blanket. But the holidays can be as fun as you want them to be. It just comes down to getting a handle on your stress. Prepare yourself for the onslaught of your holiday to-do list with the following self-care techniques that support a decrease in stress and an increase in happiness. Lets make the season as happy and stress-free as possible.
Easy and satisfying: Your neck contains a lot of powerful, spindly muscles. When you get stressed and rigid, these muscles become tight and immobile. Doing a few neck rolls when you wake up can prevent major kinks, reduce pain and tension headaches and loosen trapped fluids. Practice at least 10 slow rolls in each direction.
OPEN YOUR CHEST
Your chest area around your sternum can get tight and compressed from hours spent hunched over while dealing with your monstrous to-do lists. This is also known as your heart chakra, an area responsible for compassion, openness and love. Sit in a hard chair (or lay on the floor) with a flat back and press your shoulders/upper arms firmly into the back of the chair. Allow your chest to gently arch and open towards the sky. Lift your gaze upwards if it helps. You may hear some creaks and pops if you’ve been particularly congested in this area. Practice an open demeanor and good posture to keep this area loose.
How often do you actually allow yourself to bend laterally? It’s not a movement most of us do in daily life, which means your muscles are probably craving it. Practice a few deep side bends in a seated or standing position and feel the joyful release. Stretching this vulnerable area can decrease stress levels and increase relaxation in a major way. Just be sure to gently pull your belly button towards your spine to engage your core and protect your delicate lower back. Side Bends
GET A MASSAGE
The fact is you are going to probably develop knots. So what are you waiting for? Take care of them! Money doesn’t have to be an issue. Although it is wonderful to be pampered, seeing a professional massage therapist isn’t the only option you have when it comes to seeking relief. You can ask a very generous, firm-handed loved one, for instance. Or you can find a tennis ball and massage yourself! Oftentimes, proper use of a tennis ball for an hour can prove as effective and releasing as an expensive professional massage.
TAKE A NATURE WALK
Yes, you’re busy but you have time for a walk. If you want to do some more intense exercise, have at it. But, in times of stress, excessive cardio may exacerbates the stress on the body. Practicing slower, gentler, mindful activities like tai chi, yoga, Pilates and long walks is a more effective way of releasing stress from the body. It doesn’t matter if the sun is down or the air is brisk. A walk will do you a lot of good.
Practice breath work throughout the upcoming holiday bedlam. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, meaning it decreases the fight or flight response to stress and promotes relaxation. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety about impending holiday responsibilities, take 10 deep 10-count breaths (5 counts to inhale, 5 counts to exhale). Play with alternating between breathing through your mouth and your nose to see what feels best to you.
This is a time when you are surrounded by loved ones. If you are upset, stressed or need some alone time, don’t hesitate to say so. They’ll still love you. In fact, they may even respect you more for being so open and honest with them. You have to be true to yourself, otherwise you’ll be a frazzled, miserable puddle of stress. During busy times, it is important to practice respect, both to your loved ones and to yourself.
The holidays can be tough, but don’t lose sight of the pure joy at their core. Take care of yourself by managing your stress and anxieties and you’ll be better equipped to spread that joy and holiday cheer to others.