Stress can be really high at this time of the year. Family reunions aren’t always easy, money can be tight, and if you are newly in recovery, the temptation to imbibe is high. The reality is, stress if everywhere no matter the time of year; it’s how we manage it that makes the most difference. Developing quality coping skills is an essential piece to managing stress. Here are 8 tools to help you manage your stress and have fun while doing it!
1: Create some healthy rituals: take a bath before bed, do yoga or meditation in the morning before you start your day or before you retire at night.
2: Get outside: take walks, go on hikes, do whatever you need to do to get some sunshine (even in December) and absorb some of that healthy Vitamin D. If going outside isn’t an option (say, you are in Maine and there’s an ice storm!), adding plants to your home or workspace can elicit a similar sense of calm and reduce stress.
3: Do something that is relaxing and which allows to turn off your head: do a puzzle, knit or crochet, read a book, draw, go surfing or skiing. Essentially, do something that focuses doing something with your hands or body.
4: Use positive imagery or meditation to ground (stay connected):
A: Check in with your mind and body and visualize a safe space where you are rooted to the earth, and connected to your breath and body. Find an image that is soothing for you and breathe into that heart space.
B: Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart: breathe into your hands for a minimum of 3 cycles of 10 breaths.
5: Exercise: go for a run, walk, or hike. Take a spin class, or go to yoga. Get your endorphins going. You’ll be amazing at the stress relief you find!
6: Breathe. Take long, deep breaths. The longer your exhale, the more efficient you are at activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Try this: breathe in for the count of 4, breathe out for the count of 5.
Do this several times. In layman’s terms, the parasympathetic nervious system is what calms you down. It is essentially the emergency medical technician of your nervous system. The best thing about the breath: It’s portable, you do it all the time, and it’s easy to use.
7: Have a dance party. Put on some silly tunes and rock out in your kitchen, or living room, or wherever the mood strikes you. The goofier, the better.
8: Say “No.” You don’t have to always say “Yes” to someone’s request. If your plate is too full, say “No”! Creating those boundaries will lesson your stress. You can only do so much.
Be kind to yourself this holiday season and beyond and Kick Stress to the Curb. As the Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”