Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and for many, this time of year can be stress-filled. Whether the stress is related to family relationships, social obligations or finances the results can be harmful if gone unchecked. Chronic stress can leave us vulnerable to physical ailments like headaches, digestive issues, panic attacks, and back strains to name a few. I have experienced all of these at one time or another in my life, fortunately they have not become lifelong patterns. Many of the skills I teach in my yoga classes help manage stress on a daily basis. Here are my top 10 stress busters:
1. Breathe! Yes, we need to breathe to survive, but often in times of stress we tend to hold our breath. This deprives our body of much needed oxygen and causes physical stress. Breathing is one way our body eliminates toxins, especially as we exhale. Practice regular breathing patterns when you realize you are getting tense. Diffusing stress relieving essential oils like frankincense and sandalwood can keep your thoughts focused and grounded.
2. Laugh – a joyful heart is good medicine. Research proves time and again that those with a positive outlook on life are healthier. Find what tickles your funny bone: watching a comedy, reading a joke book or watching kids or pets play can lighten your mood.
3. Play with a baby or child. If you don’t have your own children or are empty nesters, volunteer at a local day care or church. Life is so simple for these little ones and when you bring yourself down to their level, the stress of adult life can be put into perspective. Spending time with pets can help too. Visit a local animal shelter and give some TLC to animals in need.
4. Take a walk – simply getting a change of scenery can help diffuse stressful situations.
5. Take a hot shower or bath – water is very therapeutic. Add some lavender, breathe deeply and allow your physical body to relax.
6. Listen to some music – just make sure it is soothing music that will calm your nerves and sooth your soul. Classical, spa-type music or easy listening tunes can change your mood in an instant. Choose music to suit your personal preference, check out iTunes samplings or visit your local library if you are looking for new sounds.
7. Pray or Meditate – Read something inspirational, a devotional or scriptures from the book of Psalms. Diffuse tree oils like frankincense or cedarwood to increase your spiritual awareness.
8. Stretch – try some stress beating poses. Apply Valor to the soles of your feet to improve muscle memory and keep muscles relaxed. Applying oils like PanAway or Peace & Calming to your shoulders can help alleviate tension in the shoulders that might aggravate stress headaches.
9. Find a hobby you like – arts & crafts, gardening, reading, playing an instrument to name a few. Volunteering to help others can take the focus off your stressful situation.
10. Count your blessings – even writing them down and journaling can be helpful at all times, but especially helpful to work out your feelings on paper.
11. Lastly, get help if you can’t cope – talk with a friend, pastor or counselor if needed. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or sad at times, but if these feelings continue over time or begin to cause physical symptoms that won’t go away it would be wise to seek professional help. Hopefully with some foresight and taking time to restore your body and soul amidst the holiday bustle, you can avoid any stress related ailments and have a Merry Christmas!
This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. For medical treatment, see a doctor.