Lower Holiday Stress just by Breathing

December 1st and up goes our Christmas tree! And so it begins. Although the granddaddy holiday month of December sings peace and goodwill, the shopping malls and highways tell the real truth. You know what I’m talking about. If ever there was a time for practicing centering, mindful meditation it’s now. When you intentionally slow down and focus on one thing at a time, you’ll enjoy the true spirit of the holidays. You’ll also enjoy powerful lessons in stress reduction that can be applied any time. 

Try this simple practice before jumping into holiday bustle — Sit quietly and comfortably with both feet on the floor or cross legged if that’s comfortable. Rest your hands lightly on your lap. Either close your eyes or keep them open with an unfocused gaze on a spot about 3 feet in front of you. For five minutes (or longer) breathe in to a slow mental count of four and do the same breathing out. Just notice the air going in and out of your nose, your chest rising and falling, your stomach and expanding and contracting. As thoughts arise (and they will of course), just go back to the awareness of your breath.

Don’t beat yourself up or say, “I’m no good at meditating!” That’s silly. You’re perfectly good at breathing. Just let the thoughts float in and out of your consciousness and return to noticing your breath. When you feel calm and grounded give yourself gratitude for taking the time, maybe a friendly pat on the back, then go in peace.

The next time stress rises – often we experience that feeling as a tightness in the chest, temples or jaw –slow down and turn attention to your breath. It’s always there, always present. You might be driving, in line at Target, or dealing with a problem at work when you’d rather be on vacation. A small pause before reacting can make a world of difference in how you respond and the dynamics what your response communicates. Happy holiday season!

I help organizations build whole-hearted communities through half-assed leadership principles. We work together in three ways: speaking, consulting, and executive coaching. Step up from the ordinary…. Contact me today.

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