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Have you noticed? Stress has become so ingrained in our existence that we don’t realize how stressed out we are. Feelings of exhaustion, inability to focus, difficulty completing tasks are all signs of stress. These are signs that our body has been dealing with too much for too long. Add “the holidays” and here is a great opportunity for a melt-down. Stress not only disconnects us from ourselves, but damages our relations with others.
Finding ways to release and manage stress during the holidays can help make the holidays a memorable event. Here are seven simple tips you can do, most in just ten minutes, to relieve stress and help you reconnect with yourself and others.
1. Take a walk in nature.
Find time to take a short walk in nature. Not walks around the neighborhood or a power walk on the pavement around the office. Try a real walk where there are trees and dirt paths or cacti and sand with few other human visitors. If you live in an urban area, this might be more complicated and entail a car ride to a state park.
The benefits of finding yourself in nature include the elimination of external stimuli like: cars, TVs, phones. Whether we are aware of it or not, our minds and bodies are constantly monitoring and adjusting to this stimulus.
The quiet and harmony of nature releases our minds and bodies from the task of monitoring this stimulus. With less to do, we have greater ability to relax. Looking for an instructor to help work through life’s concerns? Nature may provide the perfect option.
Sit in a room by yourself and meditate. You don’t have to twist into the perfect pretzel. You can just sit on a chair or lie on a bed. Close your eyes and try to think about nothing at all. Give yourself five minutes. See if you are able to think of nothing for even a few seconds at a time. The better you get at this, the more you’ll realize that you are thinking of something even when you think you’re thinking of nothing.
What you gain is the opportunity to quiet your mind, and when you quiet your mind, you reduce your stress. One second thinking of nothing helps as much as five minutes thinking of a lot fewer things.
3. Add a treat for yourself.
Do something that you like to do. That could be feeding the ducks at the local pond, petting your dog, or playing with your son and daughter. If you find you haven’t been able to do things you like to do, recognize this and make a concerted effort to give yourself time, like a half hour, to do these things.
Taking a half hour isn’t going to break your to-do list. The list will still be there. When you come back, you’ll be more relaxed and happy. Relaxed and happy people are better able to focus and, thereby, accomplish tasks more effectively. You may end up accomplishing your tasks in a shorter amount of time.
4. Take extra Calcium and Magnesium.
Chinese medicine uses calcium as one of their medicinal herbs to help calm people under stress, or feelings frustration, or feelings of irritation. So, add 1000mg of calcium citrate or calcium gluconate with 400mg of magnesium to your diet. Take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement with the calcium. The vitamin/mineral supplement helps ensure you have the nutrients you need to be able to absorb the calcium and magnesium
5. Find music which picks up your spirit.
There is much intriguing research on how music affects the brain. Use music that lifts your spirit while you’re accomplishing all the holiday tasks that need to get done. Studies find that music can improve memory, enhance our ability to retain new information, and stimulate the reward and pleasure areas of your brain. So, beyond releasing positive responses in the brain to counter the negative responses of stress, music also improves your memory and ability to retain new information. For once, you’ll be able to walk upstairs and remember why you went up there.
6. Change how you look at things.
When we are under stress, it becomes hard to look at things in a positive light. Stress brings about emotions associated with fears, anxiety, anger and other negative sentiments. When encountering any situation, take some time to hear your thoughts and ask yourself if this is the only interpretation of the events available. The amount of stress you are under helps determine your ability to see situations from different angles. If you’re having a hard time coming up with different viewpoints, write down a list of positive emotions and try to associate the actions with one of them.
7. Actually spend time with your family.
We spend years with our families. Living under the same roof enables us to know each other intimately. This intimate knowledge sometimes enables us to take things for granted, make assumptions about actions and reactions, and to react without thinking. Many of these responses could come from stress overwhelming our thoughts making it impossible to be with our family – even when we are around them.
Practice taking 10 minutes at a time to put everything aside and give your undivided attention to your family without concerns about whether dinner is going to be ready, whether you’re going to make the next work deadline, pay the next bill or survive the next lay-offs. Focus on just listening to and watching your family and see what happens.
The holidays offer us a special time to remember the blessings we have. Stress can rob us of these wonderful memories and damage our relationship with ourselves and others. Taking time to try some simple exercises may help you reconnect with yourself and, by reconnecting with yourself, reconnect with others. That may be the key to helping you build holiday memories you’ll want to remember.