5 Simple Holiday “No Stress” Survival Tips

The traditional intentions for the holidays are family, friends, food and socializing. Chanukah, Christmas, Advent, Kwanza, Yule… so many cultural events, this is the spirit of the season. Yet, it is well known that there is also a risk of stress and overwhelm.

Winter is a season of celebration, it is also the season of the element of water. Water can be turbulent and have us flailing and feeling like we are drowning. It can also be a season of rest, renewal, and going with the flow.

My intention is to share simple tips for helping you to choose rest and renewal. Guiding you to navigate the energies and emotions and arrive at the new year rested, renewed, and ready to create and prosper. My gift to you and your gift to yourself.

Following are a few simple tips to help you balance the fun doing and the restful yin energy of the winter water element and enjoy a holiday with less or no stress.

The ideas are simple and may be familiar. However you relate to them please receive them as reminder-invites to be in practice.

I invite you to:

Join the fun – Remember it is your holiday too! This sounds simple but often we focus on giving, creating, and making it wonderful for everyone else and forgetting it is our holiday too. For years I was guilty of working to create the holiday then sitting back to observe while others enjoyed my creations. My energy and appreciation for the season changed when I put myself first and remembered to join in the fun and celebration.
Be Sense-uous – At least once a day, stop the doing, breathe and take in the spirit of the holiday with all of your senses. By pausing, breathing and bringing your whole being to the experience it will feel like a mini-retreat. The other day, I stopped along Sixth Avenue to take in a deep breath and enjoy the fragrance of the pine trees for sale on the sidewalk.
Boundaries – Allow yourself to set boundaries on your time and energy. Be intentional about your time, your eating, your drinking, your helping, and when you say “Yes” or say “No”. Some days will be all about the party and others will be about your needs and desires. It is OK to say “No” when you are doing too much. The winter element calls us to simplify, let go, and conserve energy whenever possible.
Big-Kid-friendly – Be sure to add some mindful and mindless fun to your holiday. Get in touch with your inner child, reveling in art, music, and play. Be intentional about activities that get you out of your head with all the thinking and planning and into a lighter body and mind. It can be as simple as joining your children, grandchildren or pet on the floor with their toys, building a snowman or flying a kite. As long as it includes some movement, laughter, or using your hands more than your head.
Retreat & Renew – Plan time just for you. This may be a quick break during the busyness or more time after the holidays. Put it on the calendar NOW! It can be part of a day, a whole day or more. It may be a day you enjoy being home alone with a bath, book, and music, or going out to a spa. A day of art and creativity or a walk in the woods. A day when you enjoy your first nap in years, or maybe a simple day with nothing on the calendar. Even if you don’t know what you will do, set the time aside and put the date on your calendar now.

Wishing you and yours a safe, warm and happy holiday of joyful energy.

Hi, I am Karen McMillan, mom, YINpreneur and internationally certified, intuitive life and business coach (ACC, BCC, CUG)

My passion blending ancient wisdom with modern practice to help you slow down to speed up your success, and know life and business bliss.

Are You Or Someone You Love Struggling With Anxiety?

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

1) A Hard Dose Of Reality Could Make The Anxiety Worse. Telling someone with anxiety problems to “calm down” or “relax” does not help. This advice is not easy to do when someone is suffering from anxiety problems. People with anxiety issues are not choosing to have these problems, so using tough love does not help either. Do not tell the anxious person to “suck it up” or just face the thing that is making them anxious. This tends to heighten their anxiety level and thus makes the symptoms worse.

2) Do Not Ridicule Someone With Anxiety In An Effort To Force Them Out Of The Anxiety. Most anxious thoughts are distorted to some degree and the anxious person knows it. It does not help if you tell them that they are “being crazy”. And you do not have to keep pointing their distorted thoughts out to them. So do not make fun of them or tell them their thought processes are stupid. Instead, maintain a calm demeanor in how you let them know that the distorted thoughts are not real.

3) Give Reassurance To A Point. Usually a sincere dose of reassurance is quite soothing to someone who is anxious. Reassurance should be similar to how you would reassure a child during a storm and the child is afraid. You would tell the child, “Everything is going to be okay.” When the child comes back with “How do you know?” You calmly respond, “Everything is going to be okay.” and the child goes back to playing.

If the need for reassurance is too exhausting, then offer to go with the anxious person to therapy. This will get the anxious person professional help and will help you step back from possibly getting dragged down by your efforts to provide help and reassurance.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
~Steven Hayes

4) Anxiety Problems Are Fixable. When you are struggling with anxiety, it can feel quite overwhelming and the ability to get better may seem hopeless. The good news is that with the right help, anxiety problems can be resolved. Do not give up hope. Even if you feel like you have tried everything, your problems are fixable. The secret is to keep reading, researching, trying new therapists, going to different medical specialists. The trick is to not give up and unfortunately learn to live with the anxiety problems. You and your family will adapt to the limitations created by the anxiety if you do not get help and each of you will be negatively impacted.

5) Talking Out The Anxiety Can Help. A friend or family member who has a supportive ear and a patient personality can make a huge difference. Just be careful not to exhaust them as mentioned above. A good rule of thumb is to try and have at least three people that you can talk to about your anxiety. I suggest that one of them be a therapist who is trained in treating anxiety issues. The therapist is not only a supportive ear but also a trained ear and can pick up on things that a friend or loved one may have missed. The therapist can teach skills that will stop the anxiety from ruling your life.

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.”
~Dan Millman

6) Talking Out The Anxiety Can Make It Worse. On the flip side, by over talking about your anxieties, it can make them bigger and more overwhelming. The fears will become more vivid and real. This is how the support person usually gets exhausted in their efforts to help because no matter what is said or suggested, it is never enough. The problems just keep getting bigger and bigger. This usually leads to the anxious person becoming a recluse who is afraid to leave their house in an effort to prevent any of their fears from coming true.

7) Medication May Be Needed Whether You Like It Or Not. A lot of people balk at the suggestion of medication but are quick to say they wish they had not waited so long once they tried it. A skilled medical professional can prescribe medication that can quickly curb the symptoms that have been controlling your life and the lives of your family members who love you and watched you lose the life you once had. If you are terribly afraid of medications for whatever reason, I usually suggest to people that they at least try the proper medication for a thirty day period and just see if it works. The results are usually fast and very encouraging.

8) Get Plenty Of Sleep And Avoid Caffeine Products. If you are experiencing anxiety, you need to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If you do not get the proper amount of sleep; do not try to make up for the loss of sleep with the use of caffeine products and energy drinks in order keep yourself going. These supplements can quickly exacerbate anxiety symptoms and thus create a vicious cycle in which you will get trapped in a feeling of hopelessness.

9) Use Exercise As A Stress Reliever. Exercise is very powerful in overcoming anxiety. Regular exercise will help release anxiety and at the same time will help you sleep better at night.

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.”
~Deepak Chopra

Mark Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. He is the author of How To Be A Great Partner and How To Argueproof Your Relationship.

Tips for Restoring and Replenishing During the Holidays

RESTORE AND REPLENISH

During this time of year, as nature slows down and takes a quiet breather to restore and replenish, it’s a good time to revisit our daily practices and employ simple yet effective ways to follow mother nature’s wisdom. As nature turns inward, I invite us to do the same.

Heading into the holiday season as well, this can also be a time of year that may heighten our nerves and trigger deep emotions. This too makes it an ideal time to implement consistent daily practices to ground ourselves, and help us “settle everything down”.

Ultimately, this practice helps “ready and steady” you for success as you return to the world refreshed and more available to handle its opportunities, challenges and stresses.

In this article, we explore the ancient practice of savasana, and a technique called 4-7-8 breathing.

TURNING INWARD

So often in our fast-paced world, we seemingly forget to relax! Even low-level activities which we may be thinking are ways to relax often serve more as a mental distraction, and aren’t truly relaxing at all (watching television news, anyone?)

What if we were to allow ourselves to drop into a state of quiet neutrality, where all of our hurried, harried, frazzled parts can come back together and rest?

Savasana, or “final resting pose”: This asana (posture) is typically reserved for the end of a yoga practice.

After a revving up of the body, nervous system, organs, muscles and blood flow during yoga exercises, savasana serves many blissful purposes, including: reintegration, restoration, and a letting go of any mental chatter, agitation, or “gripping.” It’s an easing into the floor or ground upon which your body is placed – on your back, with legs comfortably apart, arms opened, palms facing upward. Eyes are closed. Breathing is calm, slow, and deep. Savasana is typically done for 5-10 minutes, and may even be done for up to 30 minutes at a time.

By engaging in savasana, you more easily become aware of your breath and your mind state. Ultimately, this practice helps “ready and steady” you for success as you return to the world and all its many challenges, opportunities, and stresses.

Another way to “turn inward” and combat the day to day stresses we all face, is to combine savasana with a 4-7-8-count breathing technique made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil. As with other yogic breathing, it’s best done with your tongue placed up and against the inside of your upper front teeth. 1. Take a slow deep breath in, for a count of four. 2. Hold the breath for a count of seven. 3. Release the breath out for a count of eight. In one session, repeat this 4-7-8 breath cycle four times, to complete “one round”.

Start out breathing at a counting pace that’s comfortable for you, and over time you’ll find yourself being able to slow down your breathing and elongating each count. The sequence, however, remains the same: 4-7-8. In total, a round of four breath cycles takes no more than two minutes, tops!

It will help you relax any time of day. And, it will help you fall asleep. Train yourself to do this to help you get centered, grounded and calm before you react to any stressful situation.

Although savasana is usually done at the end of a full yoga set, I’m inviting us all to try it on its own, as part of our daily practice, especially between now and the end of the year. Both savasana and the 4-7-8 technique have compounding positive effects when done consistently and over the course of several weeks and months.

Savasana and the 4-7-8 breathing technique — each of these practices are whole and complete on their own, and need not be done together. You actually don’t usually see them done in conjunction with one another. I’m suggesting, though, that they make for a powerful combo pack! I invite you to try them together, at least once a day. Do a ten-minute savasana, followed by a four-cycle round of the 4-7-8 breathing.

SWEET SURRENDER

Both of these practices serve as forms of physical and energetic surrender, in all the best ways. It’s a conscious and powerful choice to grant ourselves devoted time to recharge and receive the bliss that comes with sweet surrender. Look at the image of the child above, so pure, so relaxed… so open to all of life’s joys, triumphs, and love!

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION & “EXTRA CREDIT”:

In addition to doing one savasana daily*:

Several times throughout the day — and especially right before going to sleep – do the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Remember this practice takes only a minute or two to complete. You will serve you and your overall health and well-being tremendously by doing so!