There’s an old Zen adage that goes something like: ‘You should meditate for 20 minutes every day, unless you’re too busy – in which case you should meditate for an hour.’ This piece of advice seems particularly relevant in the 21st century as we race through the hours and weeks at breakneck speed. So much to do. So little time to do it. Certainly, no spare capacity to sit and do nothing – particularly if you are trying to plan the perfect festive break on top of everything else! Yet time and again, scientific studies have proven the efficacy of simple relaxation techniques in allowing us to free ourselves from the stresses of modern-day living. Being still and relaxing the body can help us to release physical tensions that build up (most commonly around the neck, shoulders and jaw). Focusing on the present moment (or mindfulness, as it is often called) lets the mind take a break from the constant chatter it generally loves to entertain. Sitting for a minute or two, perhaps concentrating on your breath as you inhale and exhale, can be just enough to (literally) take your mind off your particular worries, anxieties, to-do lists, irritations and preparations.
- If you are panicking about how you are going to get everything done for Christmas (if Christmas is something you celebrate), take a few minutes each day for yourself to try to release some of your tension. Sit quietly (and preferably undisturbed); breathe in gently and scan your body for areas of tightness and tension. Then try to let them go on your outbreath.
- Simplify your plans. Things don’t have to be complicated or anxiety-inducing. Breathe in, breathe out again, and let the body calm itself. Breathe in, breathe out, and try to let go of your worries. Breathe in, breathe out, and begin to enjoy the sensation.
- Ask yourself, ‘Am I enjoying or enduring my holiday preparations?’ Allow yourself to have fun and relax as you approach your particular holiday season. It’s allowed, you know. It really is.
text © free from stress 2017