Feeling the festive stress? Try our gentle relaxation tips this Christmas and give yourself the priceless gift of peace:
Take a breather
Turn your attention inwards to the breath this will help you feel balanced and calm, even in the midst of Christmas chaos. Sit in a quiet place for a few minutes and tune in to your breathing. Follow the movement of your breath at the front of your body. Notice if you feel your breath in your tummy or in your chest. Relax your shoulders, your neck, your face. Make no effort to breathe deeply, simply accept however your breath is in this moment. Let go fully on the out-breath and allow the in-breath to be very calm and soft. Slowing down the breath, especially the outbreath, soothes the nervous system and switches off the stress response.
You don’t have to get your mat out to enjoy a leisurely stretch. Your muscles stretch best when they are relaxed so try this when you wake in the morning, while you are out for a walk or after a Christmas TV session. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, raise your arms at an angle so your body makes a star shape. Reach through your finger tips as you drop weight down through your heels. Feel as though you are opening your body from the centre and radiating outwards. Stay in this position for 2 minutes to release endorphins!
If your to-do list is longer than Santa’s, try practising mindfulness while you complete each activity. Mindfulness involves bringing our full attention into the present moment and cultivating an attitude of kindness toward ourselves. Pay attention to the physical sensations associated with each activity, whether it’s shopping, cooking or meeting with friends. Mindfulness is especially helpful when we have to wait: in a queue, in traffic, for a friend. Instead of adding to your stress by getting impatient or annoyed, use this time in a positive way by being present and accepting whatever arises in the moment. Become aware of your posture. Notice if you are holding tension anywhere. Notice your surroundings. Be mindful of sounds. Mindfulness helps us to live consciously and appreciate life more.