Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Stress Busters

If you are anything like me, you've been busy checking off lists the past few weeks.  Workshop prepped?  Check.  Holiday Cards? Check.  Cookies made?  Check.  Gifts made?  Well….Let's just say I'm still working  on that one!

Let's face it; the holidays can lead to well…unholiday-like behavior.  Instead of that joyous feeling of community and giving, this time of year is especially stressful and full of responsibility.  This increased stress can lead to sickness, bad eating habits, and just plain Grinch-like behavior.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help me fight holiday stress, and I thought I'd share them with you here.

1. Breathe!
    Simply put there is no better way to reduce stress and bring yourself into the
            present moment.  When you feel anxiety arise, try this exercise to calm your
    -Begin by exhaling completely.  The, inhale to a count of 4.
    -Hold for a moment
    -Then, exhale to a count of six.  Repeat cycle as needed. (Especially helpful when waiting in line). :)

2.  Exercise
    While it may seem like you don't have a moment to spare, taking the time to
    nourish your body with some movement can really help in the long run.  If  you're a runner, go for   
   a run.  If you like to swim laps, make sure to make space for that in your day.  Exercise often leads 
   to  more awareness of what is happening in our bodies, so you may be less inclined to go for             
   second helpings of Aunt Trudy's Chocolate Peppermint Cake.

    If you like a more gentle practice, try some restorative yoga postures to help release tense muscles. 
    Here's one that can take as little or as long as you would like.

 -Basic Relaxation Pose
       1. Lie back on a yoga mat or soft surface, arms at your side, palms facing the sky.  Let your
            feet roll outward.
       2. Close your eyes
       3. Inhale deeply, then exhale completely
       4. Let your body softly sink into the earth
       5. Slowly go through your body, noticing tension present from your head
            all the way to your toes. 
       6.  Breathe into any tension present, then let it go with exhalation
       7. Stay here as log as you like and enjoy!

3. Supplement
    Stress can tax the body and invite sickness.  It also depletes your stores of
    Vitamin C.  Consider supplementing with this important Vitamin to boost
    immunity and increase energy levels.

    Herbal supplements are also a great option.  Echinacea Root, a well known
    immune booster, can be found in pill, tincture, or whole herb form.  Check out your nearest health
   food store or pharmacy and see what they carry.  It could save you from needing to add "Beat a
   cold" from your list of things to do. 

And remember, we often choose just how crazy our holidays are going to be.  Try to simplify (less parties, less gifts) and you will be in for a much more relaxing, enjoyable holiday.

Keep Breathing!
Kristin Henningsen, MS, CH, RYT




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