Christmas Holiday and Stress


Legs_Up_the_WallChristmas is a happy time of year, but it also brings extra responsibilities and really highlights your time and money constraints. For many people this is a time of great stress.

Holidays are a time for parties, extra activities, trying to figure out what the perfect gift is for people on your shopping list, and then figuring out how you’re going to find the extra money and time to accomplish it all. It can be overwhelming. Spending time with relatives can be a lot of fun, and challenging at the same time. There’s also pressure on you to not only look your best, but to eat excessively. It’s a time of year when many people add debt to their credit cards, and add pounds to their body! And both of them are hard to remove in the New Year!

Feeling stressed can take the joy out of the season. But there are definitely ways to help yourself manage stress and still accomplish your goals. Time management is probably top of the list when it comes to stress relief. Keeping a list of what you need to buy, and do can give you a great sense of accomplishment, as you see yourself crossing off the “done” items. If you have a smart phone, there are great free Apps that can help you organize your tasks. Make sure you pat yourself on the back as your see how you’re making progress.

Don’t forget to gift yourself. This great gift doesn’t even cost money: give yourself “down time”. This is the time that is for you to relax, and bring balance into your busy life. This is an activity where by definition, there can be no multi-tasking. It’s time for you to clear your mind of “have to’s”, “should’s” and any obligations to anyone but yourself.

What’s the best way to relax? How long should you give yourself? Don’t be cheap with yourself. Give yourself at least a half hour to relax your mind and body. I’ve been using a particular yoga pose called “legs up the wall”.  Mind you, yoga is not about putting your body into an “asana” and talking on the phone! Yoga, or “union” is about joining your mind/body/spirit into the present moment.

Make this an enjoyable time. You can put on some relaxing music, lower the lights, burn incense or a fragrant candle. Keep a blanket close by in case your body cools down while you’re relaxing.

Then, from sitting on the floor next to a wall where there’s no electrical outlets, and nothing on the wall blocking your legs, put your hip against the wall, and lower the top of your body so you’re laying down. Then slide your legs up the wall at about a 90º angle.  (Keep your bottom close to the baseboard). You can put a low pillow under your neck and shoulders if you feel like your head is lower than the trunk of your body. Arms can relax at your sides, making sure your shoulders are down, and relaxed rather than up by your ears. Now start to slow down your breath, and keep your mind focused on your slow deep breathing through your nose. You may want to use a scarf to gently tie your ankles together to keep your legs from drifting apart. This isn’t necessary, and you may even enjoy allowing your legs to form a 45º angle, or even bend. Keep your mind focused on relaxing any tension in your lower back. Make sure your face is also relaxed.

You will find great relief in this position especially when your mind is not engaged in busy thinking and planning. Another benefit is, when you do get up, you will have more energy and less tension. So give yourself a gift for the holidays: The gift of relaxation!  Happy Holidays!