Ready or not, the holidays are officially here (where does the time go?)! While there's an overall cheerful tone, for most of us, the holidays may create some additional stress in our lives. Don't worry, a little angst is a totally normal symptom of families coming together. Here are some tips to help you navigate the holiday frenzy—and that inevitable political discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
1. Deep belly breathing
The best part of this exercise is that is can be done anywhere, at any time. Feeling yourself tense up? Take a big deep breath in through your nose, expanding your belly. This activates your diaphragm, which takes you out of "fight or flight" and brings you into a more restful state, calming the nervous system. Hold for a second at the top and then breathe out very slowly (you can even purse your lips), pulling your belly in toward your spine.
While you do this, focus on keeping your stomach muscles loose and relaxed. Allow the soothing effects of this technique to wash over you.
2. Mantra for peace
This is a simple (but fabulous) exercise that I was taught years ago. I still use it often and love it because it's a nice reminder that peace starts from within. You can say these words out loud or to yourself, whichever you're most comfortable with.
- Touch your index finger to the thumb on your same hand and say the word "peace."
- Switch, touching your middle finger to your thumb and say "begins."
- Continue down the line, touching your ring finger with your thumb uttering "with."
- Touch your pinkie finger your thumb and say "me."
You can use one hand or both. Even if you feel silly, give it a try! Sometimes the simplest tools are the most powerful.
3. The simple body scan
It's likely that you've done this in yoga or meditation, but this exercise can also be used on the fly. Start by taking a big deep breath and then focus your attention on your feet, maybe wiggle your toes a little to get out of your head. Shift your focus to your ankles, and then your calves, slowly moving to the knees and up the legs.
Continue this until you've scanned your entire body and your awareness arrives at the top of your head...we like using this in transit so that we're feeling aware of our bodies and refreshed when we reach our Thanksgiving Day destination. Feeling better yet?
4. Don't skip your workout.
I know this can't be done at the dinner table, but you can bring the benefits of exercise to the dinner table. Many of us maintain a regular workout routine, and it helps keep us feeling positive, relaxed, and like ourselves. But with travel and a giant to-do list, exercise can fall by the wayside. But don't skip your workout—especially during the holidays. It's a great excuse to get some solo time; it will make you more relaxed, mentally and physically; and you'll be better equipped to handle the unique challenges posed by the holidays.
When we are removed from our normal routine, sometimes it's hard to remember all the great tools that we have at our disposal. These exercises will bring you back to peace. After all, the holidays only come around once a year, and we want you to be feeling the high vibes!