The holiday season is magical. It is a time filled with family, food, gift giving … and, at times, stress. Learning to manage stress during the holiday season (and throughout the year) is an important skill. Many people consider starting meditative activities like Yoga and Tai Chi.
But taking on a new activity this time of year can add to your already elevated anxiety level. Instead, I encourage clients to take on an easy stress reducing activity such as breathing properly or practicing the relaxation response.
I wrote an article earlier this year on the benefits of breathing properly. The article also described how to become an effective breather. I prepared it because so many of my clients have “forgotten” how to breathe.
When you have the opportunity, look at how an infant breathes. The breathing motion comes from their abdomen. As we tense up, we breathe from our chests. This is inefficient and compounds the anxiety. Many times, you can breathe out and reduce your stress level by following the steps in my article.
The Relaxation Response
The Relaxation Response is a technique developed thirty years ago by Dr Herbert Benson, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, to improve the wellness level of his patients. He describes it as “a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional response to stress and is the opposite of the fight or flight response.” I took his course a number of years ago and have found it to be very effective. He has posted the Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response on his web site.
During sessions with my clients, issues associated with their stress levels and sleeping patterns occasionally come up. High stress levels and poor sleeping patterns will hinder their fitness goals. The guidance I give them will be addressed in later blog posts.
I hope that you and your family have a safe, happy and low stress Holiday Season.