Deep, Personal Calm for the Holidays
Maintaining a calm, cool and collected attitude during the holiday season does require effort on your part. However, if you follow these seven tips you will discover that you’re more in command of your body, mind and spirit than you may give yourself credit for.
1. Take a Deep Breath
Well, take more than just one. The research is quite convincing that one of the best ways to calm the body is through deep breathing exercises. Most of you probably already know this, but don’t find the time to practice this type of breathing as often as you should. There are opportunities all around you, such as when you are sitting in your automobile during a traffic jam or waiting in line at the grocery store.
2. Get Some Moderate Exercise
It has been suggested that exercise decreases the pain of a broken heart, reduces depression and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it can also uplift your spirit and prepare your body to enter a deep state of calmness. It doesn’t really matter what you do. What matters is that you establish a routine. Any type of exercise, including walking, bounding, or even hula hooping can do wonders for your stress, but you must do it regularly for it to have an effect.
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3. Avoid Avoidance Therapy
We all practice avoidance therapy to some degree. However, during the holiday season, some people use it a little more than they should. One of the greatest stresses for just about everyone, is the feeling that you don’t have control. You cannot control the weather, traffic, relationships or the fact that you have to buy something that Aunt Gertrude will like for your family holiday party. Holiday stress can cause you to overindulge in food and drink, forgo exercise and spend a lot of money—all in the hopes of ignoring bad feelings. Don’t try to avoid bad feelings. Instead, take control of them.
4. Root for Team “You”
Monitor what you say to yourself. If you keep telling yourself you’re never going to get everything done and that you don’t have enough time, you are going to feel stressed and out of control. Instead, have a can-do attitude. Tell yourself everything is doable. Get organized and enlist a friend or family member to help you “divide and conquer.” You’ll feel accomplished when you can check things off your to-do list and you’ll worry less.
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5. Listen to Some Soul Music
The research on how music can sooth the savage soul is very compelling. In fact, there has been some suggestion that using science and what we know of internal body rhythms could theoretically create a master song for relaxation, and indeed this has been put to the test. I am referring to the song “Weightless,” composed by the combined efforts of scientists and the band, Marconi Union. Now, I don’t believe that there is one ultimate song, but I do think that everyone has a type of spiritual music that helps them cope with life’s most stressful moments. However, choose wisely, as even songs you like can have a negative influence if its message is underlined in negativity (angry breakup songs, etc.).
6. Take a Mental Vacation
People are always looking forward to a vacation. It is just a shame that those only come once or twice per year for many of us. Instead of waiting for these few and far between moments, try taking a mental vacation at least once a day. “I think the greatest travel spot is inside of ourselves, in a moment of spiritual tranquility,” says author J. Z. Knight. “It can be in the backyard as the sun is going down. It can be during a chaotic time at work, waiting at the airport, and believe me, it can even be done on the way to the bathroom.”
7. Set Rules for Relaxing
I know a lot of people who think chatting with friends and answering e-mails is relaxing. Unfortunately, the research suggests that every time a new e-mail drops in your box, or a new comment appears on your Facebook page it increases your heart rate. In other words, these moments stress you out. Why? Because then you feel like you have to answer, or reciprocate in some way. There is much to be said for putting your electronic devices away at a certain time each night, and using that time to focus on something you enjoy doing, like reading a book, or partaking in some evening meditation or yoga.
“Remain calm, serene and always in command of yourself. You will then find out how easy it is to get along (with yourself).”
– Paramahansa Yogananda
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