Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday balancing act

For many of us, this time of year represents family, friends, and a season of giving. Along with that, there are the crowded stores, cranky shoppers, stresses of making another holiday meal and bringing together people who may not get along, or even want to get along, in a single space that despite being spacious the other 364 days of the year, now reminds you of a clown car.

Yep, despite the intent of the holiday, we often find ourselves more out of balance this time of year than not. It’s a time when we can get overwhelmed by so many things, and staying centered is so much more difficult. Fortunately, you have some options, but in order to put them in place, you may need to do something that’s also difficult this time of year – put yourself first.

Gasp! I know, it’s counter to what we’re trying to do in this season of giving, but if you want to stay in balance you will need to focus on your own needs. So now that you’re over that shock, let’s talk about some simple, practical things you can do.

Breathe. Seriously, just breathe. Give yourself five to ten minutes throughout the day to step away from whatever you’re doing and focus on your breath. Long, slow, deep breathes. Have you ever noticed when we start to feel anxiety, our breath becomes short and fast and primarily comes from our upper chest? It’s true. If you instead breathe from a deeper place, your stomach, your body and mind will begin to calm down. As you take each breath, your stomach will rise and fall, your shoulders will relax and your mind will begin to clear.

Define a getaway space. In feng shui, it’s important to have spaces dedicated to your intention – for example if you want to be a painter, then you should have a room, or if you have a confined space, a corner of a room, dedicated to painting – set up an easel, canvas, paints and brushes. I recommend designating a space in your home – a bedroom, a meditation space, a favorite chair -- where you can get away from the tasks that become overwhelming, close your eyes and center yourself. You can center yourself with your breath, by lighting a candle, listening to music or maybe just picking up your favorite book. This can go a long way toward helping you to re-center. 

Step outside. Fresh air. A night sky. A tree. Flowers. Being in nature has been proven to calm our bodies, even to the point of reducing blood pressure. You don’t have to go out for long, just a few minutes will make a difference. Studies have also shown that even pictures of nature can have similar calming effects on us; so find a picture of your favorite vacation spot in nature and take a few minutes to view it and remember the great time you had there.

Dance. That’s right. There’s nothing like a good dance to change your mindset and reduce your stress levels. Blast a favorite song with a message that resonates with you. You’ll probably get others to join in with you and soon you’ll have a dance party on your hands.

So those are just a few tools you can use to stay in balance. Each one is free and easy and can actually help you shift your mental focus and reduce the stress you’re feeling. Funny thing, the more you’re able to keep in balance, the better you’re able to manage those stressful holiday situations, and yep, you’ll be happier as a result.

Give ‘em a try. You’re worth it.