It seems we all have a tendency to pile our plates high during the holiday season - turkeys braised with overcommitment; mashed potatoes buttered with stress; cookies iced with anxiety. And while we believe some stresses are worth embracing (in-laws, anyone?), we loved these helpful tips on relaxing and staying present, courtesy of The Balance Mantra founder Megha Mehta:
Pause and Scan Several Times Daily: Set the tone for what’s coming up by building this really simple pause and scan technique several times into your day. All you need to do is pause whatever you’re up to for a minute and allow yourself to ‘feel into’ your body. You can start from your toes and then go up all the way into your belly, chest, arms, head and so on. Make sure you’re acutely aware of the sensations, feelings and visions that may come up. Take a look at everything around you; the ones you love, the tastes and textures of home-cooked food. The more often you do this, the better you will be tuned in to your body’s internal landscape - thus more able to relax.
Breathe to Get Out of Your Own Head: Breathing is the fastest way to become aware and present. It can be a great route to getting out of your mind. When you find yourself overwhelmed with multi-tasking, cooking or setting the table just-so, dedicate 1-2 (or more if you can!) breaths to getting in to your body. If you aren’t able to feel more present in your body yet, don’t fret, this is a practice that you will get better at with time.
Letting Go is Just Like Minimizing an App: Just before your guests trickle in, close your eyes and imagine yourself letting go of each part of your day. Just like minimizing apps on your smartphone or windows on your computer use 2-3 minutes to send each of your worries, thoughts, to-do’s and other ideas into ether (space). Depending on whether you’re spiritual or religious you can also hand each of these over to God!
Inhabit Your Body: Many of us are going about our days without fully ‘being’ in our bodies. It’s like parts of our bodies have shut down or have been blocked and we can’t access them. A great way to activate your body’s wisdom is to take a moment to make each part of your body more fully awake and alive before you start your day. This can take as little as 30 seconds! Just allow yourself to stretch, move and say good morning to every single part of your body, first thing in the morning! Carry on the momentum by excusing yourself from the dinner table for a few stretches in the powder room, if necessary.
Disconnect to Reconnect: Whether you’re in a conversation with friends or family or taking those calls, messages and emails that are urgent, it is critical to stop. The constant connection slowly erodes the internal connection we have with our bodies. That makes it more challenging to hear, understand and interpret the messages that our bodies’ are giving us all the time! So for a few seconds, just take time off from your computer screen, laptop, iPad, tablets and smartphones and let yourself just be where you are!
p.s. For another stress-free Thanksgiving, ditch the tradition and order a pizza!