If we’re going to spread any joy at all over the holidays, we need to feel less stressed and more in control.
T’is the Season for Stressing: If it weren’t for breathing we’d be dead, and if it weren’t for stress we’d be breathing a whole lot better.
The holidays can ramp up our stress level, and leave us panting and sweating just thinking about all the joy we’re supposed to be creating.
One thing we can do when we’re in danger of losing it is to remind ourselves that making the holidays merry is NOT solely our responsibility. If we’re going to spread any joy at all we need to remain grounded and in control.
The other low-tech simple solution is to practice deep breathing when faced with potentially stressful situations. The technique has been used for centuries by people who need to gain instant composure. Public speakers, actors, and performers ALWAYS use this trick right before facing their audience to keep their stress level from derailing their performance. Gaining control of breath through deep mindful breathing is the single fastest and most effective way to stabilize anxiety and get control of yourself.
We asked Nancy Causey, founder of Half Moon Yoga Barn, in Millbrook, NY, for a breathing exercise that can help us find serenity when we need it most.
“When you feel yourself getting anxious, angry or stressed, stop whatever you’re doing and stand still or sit down. Close your eyes and bring your focus to your breath. For a few inhalations just follow your breath, enjoy the feeling of taking a deep inhale and experience the release of a slow exhale. Imagine the breath filling your lungs evenly all around from the bottom to the top like water would fill a pitcher. Let your inhales and exhales be slow and deliberate. Let all other thoughts fall away. Feel your heart muscle relax and soften. Continue this way for 2 or 3 minutes. Remember how lucky you are to be alive and the real meaning of holiday spirit.”