How to Minimize Stress During the Holidays

reduce stress with meditationI recently turned my workout routine upside down, literally. I had the pleasure of taking an AntiGravity Aerial Yoga class taught by the technique’s founder Christopher Harrison. Even his perky pooch joined the class. The class is completed on silk hammocks and includes a variety of poses, inversions, and strength building moves tailored to individual abilities. Afterwards I felt calm, stretched out, and centered; I was hooked. As the founder of this zen workout, Harrison has a lot of experience with reducing stress and staying calm. I asked him to share his best tips for reducing stress during the holidays (or anytime of year).

  1. Decompress to De-stress: Stress comes from compression of both the body and the mind. When you are stressed out you become smaller, more compact, more closed; when you are free from stress your spirit is larger, your light is brighter and you are more open. Decompress the body and you’ll decompress the mind. Get a massage, take a restorative yoga class, take a spa day or invert from your Harrison AntiGravity Hammock and allow the stored up tension to fall away.
  2. Become aware of your Breath: It sounds so simple, but if you begin to notice your breathing patterns, they change throughout the day according to the influences around you.  Notice that when you are stressed your breath is more shallow. When you are worried or afraid, you hold your breath. Take note of your breath pattern and it will also give you a hint to what you subconscious may be experiencing.  Come back to presence with a few deep inhales and exhales and notice that your blood pressure returns to normal and life finds its way back into flow.
  3. Meditate: Quiet the mind and body and consider the true spirit of the season. It’s not about Santa and fruitcake, it’s not even Jesus’ real birthday. It’s about the Spirit of Giving. It’s not about your presents, it’s about your presence; not necessarily what you are giving, but from where you are giving. An honest compliment and authentic connection can mean much more than an expensive trinket, depending on your intention. Let your intention of love and genuine care come through your eyes and your words and know that in that, you are enough. When you come back to your true self, stress falls away.
  4. Seek Excellence, not Perfection: Stress is often related to the expectations you place on yourself and the to do list during the holidays is often long. Do your best, no better—no less and forgive yourself for where you didn’t meet up to society's expectations of you. Stay in the flow of life rather than trying to force the world around you into the perfect picture you have planned and don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember you cannot be everything to everyone. If you’ve done your best, you can let go of the rest and say “no” to stress.
  5. Come back to Gratitude: When we remember how truly blessed we are, we are actually participating in the highest form of prayer and helping to shape our reality for the better. No matter the challenges you are facing (and the holidays have their own set of unique challenges), there are always things to be grateful for. Come back to them and they will multiply and help diminish the stressful thoughts in your brain.
  6. Choose Joy! Remember, things can happen around you and to you, but what truly matters is what happens inside your head.  Life is perception and stress comes from only looking through one prism of your circumstances. See the glass as half full; choose light over dark and antigravity over gravity. If your thoughts start to go the other direction, force yourself into a one-minute Laughing Meditation. You will end with a smile on your face and a reminder that whatever you are facing can always be observed from another perspective.