The holidays usually represent a time of happiness and appreciation, However, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or stressed when you look at your lengthy to-do list or turn on the news.
This year might be a little bit different but you can make the most of the holidays by changing your approach to the way you handle difficult situations. Here are some techniques to help you cope with stress and have a fulfilling experience:
Take care of yourself
You do your best when you feel your best. Taking care of your mind and body is important for increasing your energy, staying positive and keeping healthy.
Meditation brings more patience, calmness and clarity to your life. It helps you observe and understand your thoughts and feelings without judgement. This allows you to respond to situations instead of reacting based on your emotions. Here are a few techniques that can help you get started.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
- Close your eyes – breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds and slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8 seconds.This is one cycle of breathing. Keep repeating the process for as long as you need.
Simple Meditation Practice
- Find a comfortable space where you won’t be bothered for a few minutes.
- Set a timer for the length of time you would like to meditate for. This can allow your mind to relax and be present with the process so you won’t have to worry about the length of time you’re meditating for.
- You can sit cross legged on the ground, or in a chair with your feet planted to the floor with your back straight.
- Begin by taking a few deep breaths. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
- Gradually lower your gaze and close your eyes.
- Focus your attention on the sensations of your body. Starting with the point of contact between your body and the chair or your body and the floor. Notice the sensations – tingling, vibrations, pressure.
- Slowly scan your body from your head down to your toe.
- Gradually become aware of your breath. This may be the feeling of air entering and leaving your nostrils or the rising and falling of your chest. There is no need to try to control your breath – simply pay attention to the sensation.
- When doing this you will notice your mind begin to wander. You may notice thoughts and emotions start to pop up. This is totally normal and part of the meditation experience. Whenever you notice your mind wandering let go of the thought or emotions and gently return to the sensation of breathing.
- Continue doing this until the end of your practice.
Although meditation can provide immediate relief from stress, in order to experience the lasting effects that meditation is known for – it’s best to set aside some time everyday to meditate.
One of the most proven ways to relieve stress and improve your mood is to get your body moving. Although the gyms may be closed and the weather is getting colder, there are still many exercises that you can do from the comfort of your living room. Some of these include, bodyweight exercises (pushups, squats, lunges etc.), dancing, yoga, and Pilates.
Here are some other fun practical ways that you can cope with stress and have a more fulfilling experience:
Connect with friends and family – Although we might not all be able to be in the same physical space this year – you can use video chat to make the experience feel like you’re all in the same room. Video chat platforms now allow up to 8 people to be on the same call. Set a time with your family to have a group call. You can all cook a special meal and pretend you’re dining together. Whether you’re sharing jokes, or reflecting on your memories, talking to others can help to take the edge off. Make the most of your resources!
Show Gratitude – Thank the people that have been there for you when you need them. You can give them a call, send a text, write a card, or surprise them with a meal. Showing others you care and appreciate them can bring you closer together no matter how far apart you are. Showing gratitude will make you happier because you shift from focusing on what you don’t have to appreciating all that you do have.
Journal – Set aside some time to introspect and write down your thoughts. Journaling allows you to express your emotions in a safe space (without judgement from others) that you may be bottling up which can lead to stress and anxiety.
Donate to charity or friends in need – It’s no secret that the act of giving and helping others makes us feel good. Instead of accumulating more this season, try giving what you no longer need to the less fortunate. Also, when we declutter our environment the added space gives us a feeling of calm and clarity.
Get dressed up even if you’re staying home – You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant or event to get dressed up. Wearing our favourite clothes naturally makes us feel good. It can also make any activity feel like a special occasion. So even if you’re having dinner at home – play some music, set the mood with lighting, and get dressed up. Give yourself permission to be silly and have fun.
Talk to a professional
When you’re going through a rough patch sometimes you might need a fresh perspective from someone outside of your family or friends group. Talking to a professional can help you release pent up emotions, discuss issues that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with your loved ones, and heal from traumatic experiences.
Seeking help from a therapist doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means that you’re brave enough to step outside of your comfort zone and be vulnerable in order to grow. When you’re ready to open up, we have virtual psychotherapy sessions that can help you cope with stress and improve your mental health.