Just Breathe

Posted on December 18, 2014.

Yes, I’ve noticed that I haven’t updated my blog since Thanksgiving. So I’m going to stop everything right now, sit back, close my eyes and take a deep, full breath. In fact, I think I’ll take a few deep, full breaths….. There-I feel better already.

If you’re like me, you’re crazy busy right now.  It’s the time of year where you ask yourself, “ how do I have time to work?” Between shopping, travel plans, planning for family visits, and don’t even talk to me about Christmas cards, you end up exhausted, anxious and completely stressed out. So taking time out to relax, breathe and be present isn’t just a trendy, cool thing to do. It’s critical to maintaining your mental health during the Holidays.

It’s supposed to be a fun, joyous time, and for most people, I think it is.  But according to a North American survey, 45 percent of respondents dreaded the festive season.  Maybe the rest of the world just does it better.  But at least on our continent, we get too wrapped up in what’s expected of us.  So besides taking time to simply breathe at least a few times a day, here’s a few other ways to de-stress and really enjoy this time of year:

·      Commit to only spending time with people you like. Is there anything more draining than attending a party with people you either don’t know or don’t really like?  So skip it.  Guess what? No one will notice.  You can take that time to grab lunch or dinner with someone you really care about and whose company always makes you feel better.

·      Stop shopping and start creating.  One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to make Christmas music CDs.  It’s fun, relaxing and really appreciated. In fact, I had a friend call me this week to tell me how much she was enjoying the music I made her- two years ago! It’s not just a cliché that gifts from the heart are more meaningful. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I love getting someone else’s cookies.  They always seem to taste way better than my own.

·      Embrace the relatives.  Thinking about how stressful visits from relatives may be is not productive.  Too many times, your anticipation of what might happen far exceeds what actually does happen. Relax and take each moment and day as it comes.  Try to see the best in everyone and when you can’t, sit back and try to think about their motivation for acting the way they do. Sometimes, it will provide just the insight you need to let everything roll off your back.

·      Don’t set the bar too high.  I’m not sure all the Holiday movies out there are good for us.  Let’s face it, other than The Christmas Story, where the turkey ends up on the floor, most movies present an ersatz view of life. I mean it’s always snowing, loved ones always show up just in time, Christmas is saved, etc.  Why not just be beyond thrilled if your dinner doesn’t end up on the floor.  If you set lower expectations, you’ll be so happy when they’re exceeded.

I hope everyone can take some time to be with loved ones, think about what you have and not what you don’t have, embrace the spirit of the Holiday and JUST BREATHE!