Are you getting more frazzled just thinking about it?
Then join me for a moment to de-stress, and come back to the joy of the season.
Hopefully you’re sitting in a chair. If so, close your eyes, and feel your feet resting on the ground. Feel how they are connected to the earth. Now, feel your thighs on the seat of the chair, strong and supportive. Sit up tall, feeling your spine grow long against the back of the chair. Inhale deeply, letting your belly expand, full of breath. Then exhale all the air out, pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Keep breathing, deep and slow. Roll your shoulders back and down. Let your hands rest easy on your lap, palms up. Focus on your feet again, pressing into the floor, and your thighs supporting you. Imagine your inhale flowing all the way down to your feet, and then back out again on the exhale. Keeping breathing – slow, steady, and full breaths. Focus on the breath to calm your mind, and let your worries go. Take as long as you want, and when you’re ready, keep reading.
Do you feel better? I hope so! I love to do this with the sound of waves in the background. I use a $0.99 app for my iPhone called aSleep Classic. You can set a timer and choose your sound. I breath until the waves stop, and then I go back to my task, refreshed and relaxed. I do this year round, whenever I’m feeling stressed, and don’t have enough time for a yoga practice. But it’s especially effecting during the holidays.
Holiday cards and sentiments often wish for peace. But peace is often the last thing we’re feeling! The season is meant to be about family, faith, and fun. Too often, we let it become about money, decorations, parties, and stress. When you feel the whirlwind whipping up, make a conscious effort to slow back down. Take the time to do just one thing, and give it all of your attention. Remind yourself of why you are doing it. What stresses you out the most? If you don’t enjoy addressing holiday cards, focus on how good it feels every time you receive one, and that you are giving that same good feeling with each envelope. If late night gift wrapping sessions aren’t your idea of fun, remember how exciting it is to unwrap one. You’re not just giving a gift, you’re giving the feeling of love and attention, and the thrill of surprise. (A little holiday music and hot cocoa can’t hurt either!) Whatever your holiday chores are, remember why you’re doing them. If you can’t find a good reason that makes it worthwhile, reconsider if it’s worth doing at all. Focus on the things that matter to you, and allow you to show love to your family and friends, while enjoying your favorite holiday traditions.
As military families, chances are we are someplace new for the Holidays, or at least someplace we haven’t been for very long. Do some research, and find out what makes your current home special at the Holidays. Maybe it’s a certain event, a different tradition, or a food specialty. Whatever it is, try it out! Make your home truly your home at the Holidays. I’ve been lucky enough to call Hawaii home for several Christmases. This year, I stood on Waikiki Beach while Santa arrived by Outrigger Canoe. I’m taking a holiday boat tour of Pearl Harbor with friends, to see the Navy ships lit up and decorated. And every year, I make sure to go the beach on Christmas Day. (I also like to snap a pic and send it to my sister to remind her that I’m in a bikini while she’s bundled in a sweater!) It’s easy in Hawaii, but it really is important to make the most of where you are for the Holidays to keep the added stress of homesickness away.
As you work your way through the shopping, baking, sightseeing, parties, and more, take breaks. Breathe deep. Slow down. Make time to exercise. Take an evening walk through the neighborhood, listening to holiday music and looking at lights. Tell your children stories about your childhood holidays, or ask your parents to share theirs. Skype with family and friends while you do holiday activities so you can share them together. Bring the focus back to family, faith, and fun. Make your holidays about experiences, not things. Instead of letting the holidays pass by in a frenzied flurry of activity, take the time to enjoy the moments, and give yourself exactly what your holiday cards wish for others – the peace and joy of the season.
If you’d like more info on breathing exercises or meditation, check out yogajournal.com for lots of great ideas.