Holiday Inner Peace!
Why do holidays cause stress? Because first of all, it's a change in routine. Any change in routine prompts our mind and body to change to meet the demands and keep things stable "allostasis". That's a fancy way of saying that to every external change, we must adapt with internal change, e.g. a sudden change in temperature will be communicated to our hypothalamus (physiology) and we suddenly tense up our muscles or shiver to conserve heat (behavior).
Holidays do that too! It adds a ton to our "to-do" list and if you're hosting, that's even more "to-do", not to mention the laundry list of holiday woes; being exposed to difficult family dynamics, financial strains, loneliness and so on for a lot of people out there. I'm not suggesting we all become Scrooge, hiding and ba-hum bugging, but if we know the facts about our physiology and behavior, we may discover that it's possible to discover more fun and joy at this time of year!
What to do for a little Inner Peace?
1) BEING MEDITATION:
Take 20 minutes and reflect on what you'd really like to and can do for the holidays, without stressing yourself out. If that means you're staying in bed and watching all the Holiday Classics on Netflix because you feel under the weather, allow yourself to thoroughly enjoy it! If you want to put on a huge party but know you'll be sick from all the work, then ask for pot-luck or order parts of it. My personal favorite is to go to a friend's house who has a lot of extended family, since I personally have a very small family, and enjoy the lovely company without any family drama. If they have drama, my family and I can be a reality check for them. Did you ever notice that when you're having family drama and a friend comes over, all of a sudden the spell can be broken and you wonder what the heck everyone was so upset about? I like to be that friend for other people. :)
*Remember that each passing moment is that... passing. Remember that we're all here now and then we'll all be gone someday. In this context, remind yourself of what absolutely matters the most. This is the great reminder, greatest common sense advice, that we all forget, all the time.
2) ACTION MEDITATION:
You've heard this recommendation before but what's the science behind this? Why does it work? Read on to find out!
Take a very long shower (low flow of course) or bath with aromatherapy. You'll need some alone time with all the amped up activity. While you're in there, take time to really feel the warmth of the water, hear the sound of the water, smell the aromatherapy and see the light on the water. This overflow of sensory input into your somatosensory cortex will help you relax and come into the present moment. When you pay attention to your senses, it's in essence a break from your everyday thoughts by distracting your brain into the somatosensory cortex. The warmth of the water also dilates blood vessels and softens muscle tension; this is a body-mind feedback telling your mind that "oh yes, everything is fine, I'm relaxed." Your mind then relaxes too. It's no coincidence that people so commonly come up with "aha moments" while taking a shower!
*DO SOMETHING TO HELP OTHERS!
Whether it's a fundraiser, toy drive, food kitchen, helping people in need; doing is an integral part of COMPASSION. Doing makes us feel less helpless. Doing will actually physically touch someone. Even if it's a letter you write, a kind word or an email, touch someone's life and make them feel cared for and loved.
Involve your kids if you have them! This organization is AMAZING! Check it out!
DO SOMETHING! Young people + Social change to make the world suck less! https://www.dosomething.org/us
I also love SOS Children's Villages. They have high ratings as a charity! This winter, I had the privilege of meeting some of their graduates: Nathalie Nozile, Irene Bailey & N'Dine Lockhart, Gebre-Egziabher Gebre and host committee member Tsewang Namgyal of MUFG. Amazing biographies!
Happy Being and Doing!
Juna Bobby M.D.