With Black Friday upon us, the holiday season is now officially underway. Although the next month or so provides many opportunities to see family and friends, be generous, and spread good cheers, it can also be a difficult time. In a stressed-out heartbeat, the holiday season can morph into the hell-iday season.
Deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization can evoke a state of rest and release. Doing them can slow your heartbeat, calm your breathing, lower your blood pressure, and help you chill out.
You can’t necessarily eliminate the seasonal stressors. But you can counter them using the mini-relaxation exercises described below, adapted from Stress Management, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
When you’ve got 1 minute
Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.
Another one-minute relaxation technique is to sit comfortably and take slow, deep breaths. Each time you breathe in, say to yourself “I am.” As you breathe out, say “At peace.” Repeat this several times. Feel your entire body relax into the support of the chair.
When you’ve got 2 minutes
Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply saying “10″ to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.
When you’ve got 3 minutes
Sit down and take a break from whatever you’re doing. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly. Each time you breathe out, relax even more.
Read more: Harvard