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Just Breathe: Reducing Holiday Stress

LFC-DarrellLomonaco_Just Breathe

Yes, it’s that time of year again!  We begin the holidays with high hopes of cheerful encounters, quality time with family and lasting memories.  However, our schedules tend to fill up with holiday parties, shopping excursions, decorating projects and “how can we top last year!”  I’d like to present a different idea for you this year.

Less is More
Let’s take a moment and picture the holidays; is it booked solid until New Years?  Now picture the scene if you reduced your plate by half, even if you were able to only cut out 20%!  I wonder how different the holiday experience would be.  Many times we find ourselves desiring to “do it all”…the best lights, the most extravagant decor, attendance at every party, even trying to fit in each charity event…all for the sake of what?  I would like you to give yourself permission to relax.  Consider this, what if you chose a few things that you were willing to let go of just for this year.  Stay with me now, it gets better.

Your Happy PlaceLFC_peace
Now that we’ve opened up some time in the schedule, think about replacing that time with something low key and quiet, focusing on releasing stress and tension.  I wonder how much better our frame of mind would be if we created that time!  Studies show stress has a dramatic impact on how the brain processes information and stores memories.  Research has discovered changes in certain areas of the brain during stressful times: the hippocampus and the amygdala.  Electrical signals in the brain associated with the formation of factual memories weaken while areas in the brain associated with your emotions become strengthened.  Creating moments of peace, however, isn’t the only thing you can do.

Just Breathe
There are endless benefits to mindful breathing.  Deep breathing fills the lungs completely, circulating and removing air from the bottom of the lungs regularly, destroying the breeding ground for germs.  Deep breathing also massages the abdominal organs through the diaphragm, keeping the liver, stomach, spleen etc., in good working order by expelling old, impure blood and allowing pure oxygenated blood to replace it.  A big advantage of mindful breathing during the holidays is reducing stress.  Slow breathing leads to a relaxed, calm, and happy state.

  1. Breathe through your nose.  The air we inhale is not suitable to enter directly into the lungs because it has not been filtered through our nose, which functions to protect us from the toxins, dirt, and bacteria in the air we breathe.
  2. Your exhale is just as important as your inhale.  Consciously exhale just as deeply as your inhale.
  3. Alternate nostril breathing.  Close your right nostril with your right thumb.  Inhale slowly and naturally through the left nostril.  When the inhale is complete, exhale naturally through the left nostril.  Repeat 12 times.  Then slowly switch hands and nostril and repeat on the right side 12 times.  Then relax your palms to your lap and breathe naturally for a few moments.

Creating an atmosphere of peace during this time has to be deliberate.  It’s all a choice; even a sacrifice for some.  Laying down expectation, image and control is a learned practice but it is one of the most important.  Trust me when I say that it is definitely worth it!

With a peaceful mind,

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