The holidays can bring immense joy and fun; they can also create s-t-r-e-s-s! Thank goodness we have many ways to help combat the stress. One way is simple meditation. (It’s difficult only if you let it be so.) Here are two relaxing and easy meditations to help bring you back into balance, promote clarity and calm, and instill a sense of inner peace.
The first one comes from a ministry class I took some time back and uses Psalm 46:10 from the Christian Bible. Feel free to change the deity to suit your particular faith.
Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Take in a couple deep breaths and slowly release them. Then slowly speak the following, out loud or quietly, pausing for a moment between lines.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I AM.
Be still and know.
Stay with this and repeat as long as you like or have time for.
The following breathing-meditation can be a great precursor to the previous one, though is great as a stand-alone. I don’t know with any certainty from where this one originates; nonetheless, it is very beneficial.
Sit quietly and comfortably with your eyes closed – or open if that’s more comfortable for you or if you think you might fall asleep with eyes closed.
Bring attention to the fact that you are breathing, and just notice the breath as it moves in and moves out. There is no need to try to control the breathing – just breathe naturally.
Pay attention to the breathing. Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out. To help you focus you may want to put your attention on your belly rising and falling as you breathe, or on the spot just beneath your nose where you subtly feel the air moving in and out of the nostrils.
If you find your mind wandering, just simply bring the attention back to the breathing.
Stay with this for as long as you like or have time for. You may want to set a timer for 10, 15, 20 or even 30 minutes.
Other ways to help combat stress during the holiday season (or any time of year) are plentiful; here are the top three, based on my professional experience (and personal opinion):
Get plenty of rest. Go to bed early if necessary or sleep later than usual if your schedule permits. Lack of proper sleep can be a real energy drainer and wears on your mental and emotional health just as much as on your physical health. So sleep away!
If you have sleep problems, there are may ways of dealing with this: meditation, breath work, breathing meditations such as those listed above, reiki, shamanic healing, and massage are just a few. There are also over the counter medications / supplements – e.g., LunaSom PM, Bigelow’s Sweet Dreams tea or Celestial Seasoning’s Sleepy Time tea – that can be very helpful. Talk with your doctor before taking over the counter medications and supplements to assure they won’t interfere with any other medications you might be taking, or if you have severe sleep problems.
Take time for yourself. This is just as important as getting plenty of rest. Get away from the kids, the spouse/significant other, housework, yard work, etc, and spend some time alone caring for yourself. Take a nap or a hot bath, read a book, play a round of golf, go see a movie, or hit the nearest hot tub facility. Whatever it is that feeds your spirit and leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed. Taking care of yourself gives you energy, improves your mood, and makes you feel good! Your whole being will thank you for it … and so will those around you.
Say “NO”. Seriously. Learn to say “No”! The most stressed out people I know and who come in for services tend to be those who over-book themselves, time and again, for fear of upsetting someone or for fear of ‘looking bad’. You don’t have to attend every party, work at every holiday school event, or visit every relative. Of all the gatherings and events you are invited to, pick the top two or three that most interest you, and say NO to the rest (which is really saying YES to yourself). Let those you turn down this year know you will be glad to attend next year (only if it’s true) or “next time should the schedule permit”. If someone’s feelings get hurt because you decided not to attend his/her event, remember, it’s not personal. Let it go. They will survive, and so will you.
Refuse to let anyone guilt-trip you into attending their event. Let your No be No, and your Yes be Yes. And remember: “No” is a complete answer, it is also a complete sentence. Why stress yourself out more by thinking or feeling you owe an explanation and taking the time to do so? Just say, “No.”
May all your holidays be filled with what satisfies you and helps keep you stress-free.