Without a doubt, this year has been one of the biggest challenges most of us have ever endured. And now we need to face this normally joyous holiday season, courageously finding ways to compromise while still finding happiness and hope for the future.
We’ve all been shouldering extraordinary stress for almost a year, some more than others. And I’m lifted by the people who continue to serve on the front lines of this pandemic and still find gratitude. They’ve learned that finding gratitude in the smallest things can make all the difference in how they feel, how they live, and how they affect others.
Want to be your best self no matter what? Here are a few quick ways to let go of the stress of 2020 so you can enjoy your holidays.
- Start with slowly inhaling as deeply as is comfortable. Exhale even more slowly. That single breath will reduce stress and help you feel calmer. To enhance this calmer feeling, take a total of three to five slow, deep breaths. Notice how you feel after this short exercise. Want more breathing techniques? There are five easy ones here.
- This is the perfect time to thank yourself for taking the time to breathe (you just did that right?) to relieve stress. Now look around and notice something that makes you feel better and say thank you: blue sky, green traffic light, golden rays of sunlight, grey clouds, clean sheets, the aroma of a favorite food, the kindness of a stranger holding the door, the child who catches your eye and smiles. What makes you thankful? To enhance this practice, start a notebook to write down your moments of gratitude. One family made this a group activity with the notebook open on a counter all day!
- A consistent meditation practice is one of the best ways to lower stress and anxiety and increase focus and self-awareness. Meditation can be as simple as noticing your three to five slow, calming breaths, or noticing how your body feels as you breathe. Or it can be taking 10 minutes each day to clear your thoughts, over and over, patiently noticing they’ve wandered and clearing them again. Each time you try it gets easier. Here are some simple ways to meditate that you can try today.
- Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT tapping, is another great way to lower your stress levels quickly. Simply tapping on several known acupressure points on your hand, face, and upper body has been scientifically proven to reduce stress hormones. The process is easy to learn. Start here if you want to learn how to use EFT yourself. I promise you’ll be amazed at the results.
This year we’ve been asked to give up many of the holiday traditions we hold dear. And many of us are coming up with new, creative traditions that might become keepers. We can all find gratitude for what we CAN do, instead of dwelling on what we cannot.
Ready to release the stress of the holidays of 2020? Start with one of these techniques or try all four if you have the time and interest in finding a little inner peace. Each technique will bring you to a calmer place in minutes.
Please remember: It's important to contact a professional if things feel too big for you, whether it be a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, or certified EFT practitioner. Never discontinue your current medications without first consulting your doctor.