It’s nothing new, but many people experience stress during the holiday season.
It should be a time of great joy and happiness. We have parties to go to. We spend time with friends, eat wonderful food and give gifts to the ones we love. Houses are decorated in beautiful colors and festooned with lights. But despite all that, many people get overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and depressed.
Why are the holiday’s so stressful?
Well, it seems that there’s just a whole lot more of the stuff that causes stress throughout the rest of the year. More deadlines. More shopping. More traffic. More people in the stores. More hours spent online shopping. More financial worries. More wondering if you bought enough toys for the kids. Will they like what you got? Will you have enough food for guests and will they like your cooking? Late nights wrapping presents. Worried about your diet going out the window. Anxious about looking good for the office party. Writing and mailing holiday cards. The list goes on.
But on top of that, the holidays can bring back memories of loved ones that are no longer with us, and that might trigger a strong emotional response. Depression is fairly common. We long for those old happy days. Now the kids are grown and have their own families. Loved one’s are no longer with us. Maybe we feel more lonely. Maybe we weren’t invited to a holiday party.
And of course, add all of those things to the usual stress we face week to week. Bills, work, school, homework, relationships, cooking, cleaning etc. and all the year end paperwork that seems to need taking care of.
I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface, but it seems like there are plenty of reasons why the holiday season can be full of anxiety, depression and stress for many people.
3 Simple Techniques to get rid of Holiday Stress
This is a website about meditation so I’m sure you can probably guess what I’m going to say next. But I can’t “stress” this enough, it’s really important to release the stress that builds up in your body at the end of each day. The hormones released through stress are harmful to your health and they won’t let you get a good nights sleep.
#1 – Dissolve the Stress – Meditation
Meditation has many benefits, and one of the first and easiest to achieve is simply releasing stress from the body. You don’t need to have an out of body experience to achieve that. You don’t need to become one with the universe, all you need to do is sit properly and relax, relax, relax.
The most important part of that is to sit with good posture so that the spine is like a perfectly balanced stack of pebbles. Getting the spine to balance allows every other muscle in the body to relax completely.
Lotus position, with its stable triangle base is by far the best, but the good news is, you don’t need to resort to such extremes in order to meditate. Sitting in a high backed chair with both feet flat on the floor and your hips and knees at right angles is so much easier. Use cushions on the floor or under your butt to achieve this.
Now sit with a straight spine and your hands resting gently on your thighs. Sit into this and feel the muscles relax. If you’re not sitting straight, you’ll start to feel tension. Keep adjusting yourself until you can feel every muscle slowly release.
Just keep scanning your body in this way, and whenever you feel tension, relax the muscles. If you feel yourself lean when you relax, then adjust your posture until it’s balanced.
Pay particular attention to your shoulders, neck and jaw. These muscles tense up so easily when we are stressed.
Once you’re suitably balanced, you can turn your focus to your breathing. Don’t get caught up with any particular esoteric breathing style. We’re just going for stress relief here, not spiritual awakening. In the same way you relaxed your body, now relax your breathing.
Just feel your lungs gently expanding and contracting. With each out-breath, just relax. At the top of each in-breath, notice there’s a slight stillness that hangs motionless before you start to breathe out again. Just notice that floating sensation, then relax, relax, relax.
Each time a thought pops into your head reminding you that you still have to get a present for your aunt Nelly, just let it go. That’s not important right now. All that matters right now, in this moment, is relaxing and breathing. The other stuff can wait.
Do this for 10 minutes or so until you feel all the tension in your body dissipate.
A really good guided meditation will also work well. Just jump on YouTube and look for guided meditations. Listening to somebody’s soothing voice taking you on a walk through the woods or along a beach will let that stress dissipate.
#2 – Release the Stress Constantly – Breathe
As you go through your day, the drama in your head causes tension in the body. That’s where the stress comes from. So as you notice yourself starting to get overwhelmed, just quickly feel the tight muscles, relax them and breathe gently.
By controlling your breathing, you are telling your mind that you feel safe and there’s no need to tense any muscles. When you’re driving to the mall for those last minute gifts, just notice the tense muscles and relax them. Breathe slowly and gently.
Remember that little stillness at the top of your breath. Look for it again. It’s still there. Even in the middle of a chaotic mall or in a traffic jam.
The more you can eliminate the stress during the day, the less exhausted you’ll feel at the end of the day.
#3 Zero Drama, Zero Stress – Unconditional Love
This is my number one tip for life in general. I talk about this a lot in my book, “Understanding Happiness – Pocket Companion Workbook”.
Our minds are lazy, so we all have default ways of responding to situations. If I yelled at my kids one time and it got there attention, then I am more likely to yell at them in a similar situation in the future. But many of our default responses are unnecessary and don’t really reflect the physical situation.
But the worst thing is, that, many of our default responses release a lot of negative energy and negative hormones into our body that do a lot of damage.
When you practice, unconditional love, you basically override all of your default responses and instead or getting angry, getting anxious, getting sad, you get “lovey” instead, and fill your entire body with healthy hormones that allow your body to heal, thrive and be happy.
When you tell your mind that you are feeling love towards something, it no longer needs to judge anything, criticize or make comments in your head because you just told it that you want to feel love and that you’re OK with the situation.
This is good to practice each morning before you get ready to do battle with the day.
Sit quietly for a moment and dig through your memories to find something or someone that you love unconditionally. A fond memory of a certain experience, a loving pet or a person that fills you with joy. Now close your eyes and relive that experience. Picture it in as much detail as possible.
As you’re doing that, pay really close attention to the wonderful feelings running through your body. Become aware of how amazing it feels. That’s your body chemistry changing to a healthy state.
Now visualize sitting in traffic on your way to the crazy, hectic mall, but……..maintain that same loving feeling. Picture yourself standing in line at the checkout and feeling that pure love.
Anything that is a source of stress for you, just picture it, but feel pure love towards it. Smile inwardly and say you’re OK with it.
Now, the difficult part is trying to do that in the real world. It might not happen straight away, automatically, but each time you feel frustration, anger, nervousness creeping in, just switch to pure love and feel the difference. Nothing physically changes about your current situation, and yet you are filled with joy.
Let that be a turning point in your life to realize that it’s only your mind that makes you respond a certain way and that you have full control over how you respond to something. Choose love, it’s so much healthier. You’ll live longer, you’ll be happier and healthier.
Namaste my friends.
~ The Gregarious Hermit
#HolidayStress #Meditation #Mindfulness #UnconditionalLove
Hey – Thanks for Reading
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