The fast-approaching holiday season is a time of heightened anxiety for a lot of us. It used to be for me too. There are so many expectations we put on ourselves, or others put on us, that the build up to that one day can be incredible.
It’s a scary time – who might we offend? is what we’ve done enough? or too much? If we’re alone, we may feel a longing for family at this time like no other.
This is the darkest time of the year for people in the Northern Hemisphere. A time for hot chocolate, sitting by a roaring fire, looking inward. It’s a perfect time for quiet introspection – an activity best done alone.
It’s also a time for welcoming the day back, because this is when daylight begins to increase. A time of gratitude, and good will.
Introspection and welcoming gratitude – both lend themselves to meditation. Deepak Chopra believes this is the perfect time to meditate. He reminds us that meditation helps us through our fears, reducing them to a manageable size, re-focusing our thoughts on the beauty of the present instead of worrying about the future.
Fear is a natural reaction that’s built into us, called our fear-response. It warns us of a possible danger; and once that possibility is over, so is our fear. The problem is that there can be so many expectations, that our fear-response doesn’t have a chance to calm down. When that happens, it can become general, mysterious, seemingly unattached to any particular fearful thing.
This is generalized anxiety. The good news is that it need not last, and one way that helps is to learn to meditate. Here are three steps to getting out from underneath anxiety:
- Get out of your mind and into your body. Close your eyes, and feel your body. It helps to bring your focus of attention to a part of your body that you notice, breathing into that area, until the sensations you experience shift and change. Then, move to another part of your body, and breathe into that part, noticing and getting interested in your own physical sensations.
- Let go of the fear. Once you begin to relax through breathing, become interested in any physical sensations you continue to experience that come from fear – shaking and chill, shallow breathing, tension. The idea is to let these sensations go a little at a time, by doing something that counters it. If you’re cold and shivering, get under some warm blankets or take a warm bath. If you’re breathing is shallow, take slow deep breaths. If you are tense, say in your shoulders and back, stretch from side to side, loosening up the back muscles and reducing the tension.
- Calm yourself into natural relaxation. Once you are able to let go the fear, relax and allow your body to heal. Lie down, have a relaxing tea, listen to calming music. Take time to recover, honoring your body’s need to this time.
You can free yourself from anxiety and stress, even during the stress of holiday season.
I want to invite you to my free webinar, 3 Brief and Unusual Strategies to Manage Stress on January 5, 2015. You’ll be able to use these short, yet powerful, techniques anywhere to transform your day from stressed out to super, freeing yourself from that rock you might be stuck under. If you’re interested , click here to register.
Quote of the Week
You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free