With the extra hustle and bustle of the season (shopping, decorating, wrapping, socializing, etc.), it's easy to feel less than wonderful during this most wonderful time of the year. When you find yourself caught up in the middle of the frenzy in need of a break, what can you do?
We all know the usuals: take a walk, a nap, a deep breath or exercise, but here are a few pointers you might not have heard yet. Some you can even do right on the spot without anyone knowing.
1. Roll your eyes up.
Closing your eyes and looking up kick-starts your brain's production of alpha waves, which are present in a relaxed state of awareness like when you day dream. It's the movement of the eyes that causes your brain to make alpha waves, so a quick glance at the ceiling could do wonders for your stress level, just make sure you're not rolling those eyes at your mother.
2. Take a whiff of citrus.
Researchers studying depression have found that citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a mood-affecting hormone. You can use the real thing or essential oils in a diffuser or burner.
3. Hold the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
Doing this connects the two "master meridians" that in turn control all the rest. They both begin in your perineum and run up the front and back of your body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, meridians are the channels through which your life energy, called "qi" or "chi," flows.
Placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth completes the "microcosmic circuit" allowing energy to move freely throughout your body. (An added plus is that you can't talk and say something you might regret later while doing this.)
4. Squeeze between your thumb and forefinger.
The fleshy part of your hand between your index finger and thumb is called the hoku spot in traditional Chinese medicine. Applying firm pressure there for just 30 seconds can help reduce stress and tension in your body. So if you start to feel overwhelmed by holiday chaos, give your hand a squeeze and take a deep breath.
5. Spice it up.
Eating hot foods causes your brain to release endorphins, the natural neurochemicals that trigger feelings of euphoria and well-being.
6. Get busy with someone or by yourself.
In addition to boosting immunity, having sex can lower stress. Duo or solo, orgasms increase endorphins, your body's natural painkillers, and raise oxytocin levels, which promotes trust, relaxation and sound sleep.
7. Take a technology break.
Constant electronic buzzes and notifications give your brain bursts of adrenaline, keeping it on high alert. Not only is this exhausting, it also contributes to elevated stress levels. Turn your gadgets off and really be present in your current environment. Take the mindful stance of being an objective observer and you might even be able to see some humor in the madness.
8. Tap it out.
EFT is a brain/body/emotions reprogramming technique where you tap gently on different parts of the body with your fingertips while you repeat a phrase out loud and pay attention to your emotions. It's similar to acupuncture and acupressure in that it stimulates meridian points. Tapping is believed to increase the overall flow of chi by getting it unstuck from these points.
9. Eat a mango.
You might already know that mangoes are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But, I bet you didn't know that mangoes contain a lot of tryptophan, the precursor of the "happiness-hormone" serotonin and can help stabilize and elevate your mood. So eat up!