For most of us, the spirit of the holiday season comes with a side of stress. Finding that last gift, baking the last batch of cookies, running out to grab one more strand of lights for the tree (you know, because that old strand went out on Christmas Eve of all days) — it can turn saints into Scrooges in no time flat.
Our friends at the FMH Wellness Center offer the following mini relaxation techniques for use now and throughout the year ahead. Each one is a quick way to lower your stress level whether your brother-in-law just insulted your famous holiday pie recipe, you’re preparing for an important meeting, or you’re stuck in traffic on I-270.
When you’ve got 1 minute: Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.
When you’ve got 2 minutes: Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply saying “10” to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.
When you’ve got 3 minutes: While sitting down, take a break from whatever you’re doing and check your body for tension. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly. Each time you breathe out, try to relax even more.