With Christmas only days away and the holiday hubbub reaching its peak, I wanted to reach out and check in with you. How are you feeling today? Since you're reading, I'm guessing you're pretty stressed. And no matter what we've been conditioned to believe, the holidays are not about hustle and gifts. They're about love - both sharing it and feeling it, which can be nearly impossible to do when you're burnt out, stressed and tired.
But I also understand it can be impossible to completely slow down this time of year. So I've collected 5 of my favorite ways to relax anytime, anywhere.
1. Get in tune with your breath
According to this article from Berkeley, by tapping into our breath "we gain access to a powerful tool for regulating our responses to stress." The most accessible technique is to slow your breaths and follow the airflow as it passes through your nostrils, into the lungs, expands your diaphragm and flows back out the nostrils or mouth. Inhale and exhale to counts of 3 or 4 to create a steady rhythm and gain more presence in your breath. This will bring you back into the present and out of an anxious mind.
If you have a 10-15 minute break in the day, or even as you're about to fall asleep, these additional techniques from VeryWellMind are particularly helpful.
2. Change your environment
Ideally, this will mean going outside to enjoy some fresh air and nature. But if you're really pressed for time or can't leave the kids alone for more than 5 minutes without a disaster, there are a couple ways to refresh your space and your mindset in a snap. We love what Jennifer of Simply + Fiercely suggests: altering lighting, scent and sound.
I, of course, will first recommend candles for this. They not only make the lighting in any room more romantic and elegant, but you can choose a scent based on your needs. Need a mood lift? Go for Citrus. Maybe some help calming down? Lavender or Lemongrass. Want to escape? Try Beachy or Wintry.
Other ways Jennifer recommends to adjust your space are:
- Turning off overhead lights and turning on lamps
- Putting on a calming or happy playlist
- Dropping some essential oil into a diffuser
3. Release physical tension
It's amazing how much tension we can hold in our bodies without realizing it. We love this technique from Healthline to release it. Lie down if possible, but this can still be effective while sitting (even at the dinner table). Starting either in your toes or your face, tense up one part of your body at a time, then slowly and fully release. Work your way to the other end of where you started, giving attention to each muscle group.
I also really enjoy Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She has a bunch of options for stress relief through yoga, from a quick 5 minutes to a full 30 minute practice. Here's the full list of her stress-reducing videos here.
4. Give yourself some love
Did you know that giving yourself a hug actually releases oxytocin and can be immediately effective in relieving anxiety? Yep, simply wrapping your arms around yourself and giving a big ol' squeeze is beneficial! In fact, according to clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Gerrilyn Smith, general self care of your physical being should be prioritized. For example, slowly drying yourself out of the shower or taking the time to massage lotion into your skin (oh hey, Skinny Dip is great for that)!
5. Let your mind rest and write it down
Mind racing with all your to-do's for the next day, the next hour? Instead of running them over and over in your head, take a few minutes to write them down. This is especially important to do before bed so you can fall asleep faster and get those necessary Zzz's. I personally love the notes app on my phone because I can add checkboxes.
What are some of your favorite ways to destress, decompress and relieve anxiety? Tell us in the comments!