- Deep breathes – How many of us actually sit down and take the time to breathe in and use the full capacity of our lungs? Really draw in that air until you can’t any more. Deep breathing can calm you down by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Here are my tips for deep breathing:
- Sit in a comfortable position, cross-legged or in a chair.
- Straighten your back for easier breathing.
- Close your eyes as it helps you focus on your breaths
- Inhale slowly through the nose
- Take five seconds to fill the lower part of the lungs, by expanding the ribs and pushing the abdomen out.
- Concentrate on filling the top of the lungs for the next five seconds. This will expand the chest and tighten the abdomen slightly.
- Hold the breath for 1-5 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through the mouth until you have emptied the lungs.
- Repeat 5-10 times
- Calming teas – Who doesn’t like tea? There are so many options to choose from and they all have health benefits. When you are running around with anxiety over buying the perfect gifts, instead of grabbing this seasons festive drink filled with caffeine and sugar (which only add to anxiety) a lot of coffee shops carry herbals teas, so grab a chamomile or a peppermint tea instead. These herbs are anxiolytics meaning they decrease anxiety.
- Exercise – What a great way to let out built up anger, frustrations and other emotions that are causing you stress. Sports like kickboxing, running and lifting weights are great for this. Other, more calming forms of exercise include yoga and Tai chi.
- Journal – Similar to exercise, journaling is a great outlet to release emotions. It allows you to reflect on the events of the day by writing down the roller-coaster of emotions you may have experienced, and gaining insight into your daily moods and behaviours. It allows for problem solving which can reduce stress, and can enhance self-esteem, which is important for mental health. Tip: journaling doesn’t have to be perfect, just start writing, no need to edit your thoughts and feelings, just get them out.
- Make time for yourself – You are running around trying to do everything and for everyone. But you won’t be much use to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first. Invest in yourself and don’t feel guilty for it. Stick to your hobbies, schedule a time to read, listen to music or take a bath, and the quality of everything you do afterwards will be better because of it.
- Try acupuncture – Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system causing the release of neurochemicals that have biochemical effects on the body and mind, to better your overall well being.
- Spend time, not money – One of the biggest stresses of the season is around money. A lot of people would prefer spending valuable time with you instead of receiving a gift. Spend time by going for walks in nature, or having tea together. Cities always have free events going on that you can partake in and have a lot of fun with, such as ice-skating, and music festivals.
- Help out your host - Constricted eating habits such as food allergies or sensitivities, can weigh on your mind when you are invited for a holiday meal. Some of your thoughts include “what am I going to eat!” or “I don’t want to be a burden”, and although most hosts don’t mind accommodating, it is nice to help them out. It reduces the stress for you and them. If you have constricted eating, let them know ahead of time so that they can prepare for you, bring a dish so there will be at least one thing you can eat, and don’t arrive hungry; fill up a little before you go as it is likely you won’t be able to eat every dish that is offered.
- Reduce caffeine and sugar - It is well known that these two ingredients can add to an agitated state, so try to keep these to a minimum.
- Meditate – Try to be quiet and present in the moment (I know, easier said than done). Start with 5 minutes a day if you can, if not, try a minute and just work your way up. You tube is a great place to start! This short Guided Meditation will help to get you started:
The holiday season is upon us; it’s crazy how it just sneaks up like that! So much so that it is a week before Christmas and you haven’t started your shopping, your annual family holiday cards are still in a box waiting to be signed, sealed and delivered, and don’t forget that holiday potluck or two…. what to bring?! The little stressors of the season add up and can leave you feeling overwhelmed and ready to take a vacation after your Christmas vacation. Here are some ways to minimize the stress and help you through the holidays.
I am an Edmonton, Alberta Naturopathic Doctor with a desire to help others, a passion for life, a heart for nature, and a curiosity to try new things!
This blog is not intended to give specific medical advice. Always seek the recommendations of a qualified healthcare professional for your specific health needs.