Managing Holiday Stress

holidaystress.Last night Mark and I enjoyed a class taught by Michelle Thornell at the University of Utah Sugarhouse Health Center. Michelle gave us strategies to keep us from feeling exhausted, out of balance and susceptible to winter colds and flu. She provided nine tips to increase our enjoyment during this special time of year, which I thought were worth sharing in summary with you.

  • Simplify and commit to less. Choose to participate only in those holiday activities that hold meaning and joy for you and your loved ones.
  • Do one thing at a time. Give yourself the joy of focused attention.
  • Communicate consciously. Before you speak, think. Ask yourself, is what I’m about to say true, helpful, important, necessary and kind.
  • Maintain a restful sleep routine. You’ll feel better and be able to accomplish more as you cultivate a sleep routine. When you find yourself pushing too hard, or overdoing any activity, stop and rest.
  • Besides sleep, the best rest is the deep relaxation provided by meditation.
  • Eat warm, soothing foods. When the weather is cold, limit your intake of dry and raw items such as nuts, chips, and uncooked vegetables, which all tend to aggravate the body’s nervous system and digestion.
  • Don’t skip meals while holiday shopping. Skipping meals aggravates the body and mind, so stick with regular mealtimes.
  • Exhale your stress. In stressful situations we have an unconscious tendency to breathe shallowly, which only increases anxiety in our mind and body. Diaphragmatic breathing utilizes deep relaxing breaths to release stress and toxins from the body.
  • Nurture your senses with aromatherapy and essentials oils. In your home or office, use soothing scents such as orange, lavender, sandalwood, vanilla, orange, basil, or clove.

“Stress and other impurities hamper the free flow of energy and information through your physiology, whereas meditation helps remove them by releasing stress and eliminating toxins from your body. Rest is nature’s way of healing and rebalancing your body. Research has shown that the rest associated with meditation has been found to be much deeper than the rest gained in sleep.”

Michelle gave us eleven meditation exercises and taught us diaphragmatic breathing. We practice by placing one hand on our belly and the other on our chest making sure that our hand on our belly was the one moving.

“Diaphragmatic breathing is the act of breathing done by expanding one’s belly and thereby allowing the diaphragm to move down, creating more room for the lungs to expand. Practice this several times each day and you will then have it available in a stressful situation. This simple technique can slow and even stop the fight–or-flight response.” Reference:  http://www.ChopraTeachers.com/ZenSoldier.

Michelle is a U.S. Amy Major, meditation instructor and stroke survivor. She teaches a free weekly class every Wednesday at 3pm through the Intermountain Healthcare, Cottonwood Medical Clinic, Main level 1. To learn more about Michelle visit, http://meditatewithmichelle.com/

This timely information is a great reminder of how to destress and enjoy the holiday season.

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