happy holidaysMy Top 3 Tips for a Happy Holiday Season

1-Breathe, 2-Prioritise, 3-Take Care

Let’s brainstorm about breathing for a minute.  If you are stressed and taking shallow breaths you may not be taking in enough oxygen or getting rid of all the carbon dioxide.  Without enough oxygen your body and brain don’t function optimally.  If you are not expelling all the carbon dioxide then you are poisoning yourself (well that’s my interesting point of view anyway).

In mBIT they are very keen on balanced breathing – inhale for 6, exhale for 6, etc.  (If you go to the website they have audio pacers to help you practice – http://www.mbraining.com/home/mbraining-resources.) This breathing technique quickly brings your autonomic nervous system back into balance and allows homeostasis to occur (all your systems go back to factory settings).  But I would suggest that any breathing practice you have that brings you back into the present and calms you down would be worth doing for short periods each day, especially during the “silly” season!

Now, to prioritising.  Contrary to popular myths, most people can’t DO everything.  So take a few moments to decide, at a high level, what is important.  Is it connecting with family?  Making the children feel the magic?  Proving to your sibling/mother-in-law that you are a great cook?  (It’s ok, just be honest – you don’t have to TELL anyone!)  Then choose the rest of your activities to support this main objective.  And avoid one’s that don’t.

My objective is usually around making it an enjoyable time for me, because my family is all so dysfunctional….. So I choose food that is tasty, but doesn’t take hours to prepare.  I  think about what family members do and like, and make a list of low cost presents that will support them, and then I stick to the list when shopping (well in advance, of course)!  In fact I do a lot of pre-planning and list making, so I don’t end up running around like a headless chook on christmas eve (see other members of the family).

About taking care.  There are two aspects to this that I would like to talk about.

Firstly, please be present and mindful.  When you are not in the now you are more likely to forget things/people or put your hand in the food processor after you switch it off but before the blades stop spinning (that was a long time ago, you can hardly see the scar).  Plus, you can enjoy things more (especially those little moments) when you focus your attention on what is happening right now, rather than letting it wander off to the past or future.

Secondly, look after yourself.  Put your oxygen mask on first.  Put nourishing food into your body (most of the time), get enough sleep, keep your spine straight, and your muscles relaxed, and if you need help, ask for it (it is hard to massage yourself, after all).

So please, during the silly season, remember to breathe, prioritise and take care.  And have a joyous, peaceful, magical time with yourself, your family and your friends!

Karen Howard is an Bars and Body Facilitator and coach.  She is an expert in holistic stress management, ease and shining brightly.  To work with her (maybe you want a de-stress session before Christmas) call 0403 982 185 or email alwaysshinebrightly@gmail.com.

This article was originally published in 2018.