6 guaranteed ways to deal with long lines, obnoxious people and holiday mayhem.
The holidays are coming! And with that comes stress, shopping malls, too many people, family conflicts, heavy foods and frustration!
For many years I dealt with the stress of the holidays by lifting my glass and celebrating life with an after dinner drink. It was the alcohol that took the stress away. Actually, for me, it was the before dinner drink, the during dinner drink and the after dinner drink that really made the difference. Thankfully, I’ve out grown those days and practice much more productive forms of stress relief.
This time of year can be incredibly agitating for many of us. The key is to embrace whatever life puts in our path regardless of whether or not we like it. Epictetus, the Greek Stoic philosopher said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” And our mind is so powerful that it can cause major havoc if we cross it’s path. Unless, of course, you know what you’re dealing with or how to overcome those instinctual reactions.
It has been said before that the mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. If we allow the mind to be unleashed it will add to the chaos, we will live in the fight or flight mode. Even though we are not in the jungle fighting for our lives, the brain creates a similar process. When we receive a threat, whether being chased by a wild animal or being pushed in a crowded mall, the brain sends a signal to the pituitary gland. The amygdala receives the threat, then transmits the message to the hypothalamus. Those parts of the brain signal the pituitary glad to secrete what’s known as adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH. Cortisol and adrenaline are released and the physical reaction begins. We have increased heart rate, tunnel vision, dry mouth, shaking and more. While some experiences are more extreme than others, the same process happens.
We need to develop a solution to combat that process before it begins or at worst stop the reaction after the adrenaline is pumping through your veins. This is where understanding the mind comes in. Begin to develop the awareness of the inner workings of your mind. Start with small things like being late for an appointment. How does your body react? What is happening in the mind? How can you make that process more productive and less stressful?
Whether you’re prepping for a dinner party of 20 or making a mad dash in and out of the stores during those once-in-a-lifetime sales. The holidays are getting more demanding and more crowded. We must learn to deal with the stressful events before it’s too late and we do something we regret. Our society is becoming more about consumption and less about peaceful, quality time with loved ones. We need to create a revolution of calm people to infiltrate the land of the unconscious.
Here are a few simple solutions to stay centered, keep strong and feel young during this holiday season.
1. Deep breaths — whether it’s in the parking garage dealing with people who don’t seem to know how to drive or the person holding up the line at Barnes & Noble. Stop, take a deep breath and hold for 5-10 seconds. Then slowly begin to exhale. Do this 3-10 times and your blood pressure, heart rate and negative thinking will definitely rebalance. If you’re new to meditation, download this audio program to learn the basics.
2. Shake it out — Change the moment. Making some arm circles and shaking out the legs are all ways to get some blood moving through your system. Never hold on to negativity, it is like poison in your body and who wants that during this cheery season.
3. Twist and shake — Create some space for yourself, bend your knees a bit and flap your arms side to side. Twists liven up the body and this is a great way, whether you’re at the mall or in the airport to squeeze out the bad and let the good start flowing again.
4. Forward fold — Utanasana (Standing Forward Fold) is therapeutic and revitalizing. It brings blood to the head for increased oxygen. Stand with your feet hip or shoulder width apart, bend your knees slightly then fold forward until your upper body is resting on your thighs. You might not be that flexible, but that doesn’t matter. If you’re more flexible keep your legs straight, less flexible people keep them bent. It is a complete back of the body stretch, from your heals, through your calves, hamstrings and lower back to your shoulders and neck. When you come up, make sure you move very slowly and engage your abdomen.
5. Side stretches — Take your arms over head, grab your right wrist, reach up as high as you can and fold to your left. Take 3-10 deep breaths and repeat on the other side. Sometimes the holidays and all that come with them can close us down physically and emotionally. These side stretches will help keep us standing tall and avoiding early onset curmudgeon disease.
6. Help Someone in Need — Whether it’s the old man trying to cross the street, the mom with three kids and too many shopping bags or the homeless person with their hand out, the more we get out of our own head and help others the better off we’ll be. Giving is a gift in itself. This holiday season let’s do it a little more!
That’s it, now you’re equipped with the tools to get through this holiday season with glee. The way it was meant to be. Happy Holidays!
Photo Credit: Flickr.com/jennydowning