We all feel stress during the weeks before and after the holidays. The secret is to recognize our tension and then adopt some simple practices to reduce it. Make a New Year's resolution to incorporate these stress reducers into your daily life -- not only during this particularly hectic time of year. You will feel better!
As effective as the following remedies are, don't forget to incorporate physical exercise into your life, too.
1. Eliminate the word "should" from your vocabulary. If you walk around thinking of all you should do, you are inevitably making yourself "wrong". This is unproductive.
2. Get rid of the idea that something is being done to you. Things happen in life. No one is gunning for you.
3. Learn from past experiences but also learn to let these things go. Don't berate yourself for past mistakes. Look to the future, instead.
4. Accept that all humans make mistakes; everyone is fallible. You are no different.
5. Make an effort to stop fighting with loved ones. It takes two to argue and create a conflict. Try walking away from these non-productive situations.
6. Learn proper breathing. Breathe deeply and regularly to take in the maximum amount of oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Believe it or not, this will make you feel more grounded and more involved in the present.
7. Sigh. Ahhhhh, it's true. Just as it's important to breathe deeply and calmly, it's important to let stress leave your body with audible sighs. This is one of nature's small tricks.
8. Laugh often! Full belly laughs are good tension relievers. Let's face it: you cannot stay angry or stressed if you're laughing.
9. Learn to visualize and make positive affirmations. Take a few moments to visualize how you want life to be; make confident "I" statements and keep your language upbeat. Find a comfortable spot to visualize; make yourself aware of all your senses; repeat three times: "I feel calm, I feel relaxed, I am in control."
10. Employ palming. Cover your closed eyes with your palms, visualize the color black. Slowly open your eyes and feel yourself relax. Try it; it works!
While these techniques are useful -- and not every one will work for each of us -- your overall goal should be to find inner peace. Find comfort in small things: your children playing happily, a warm and comfortable family dinner, an afternoon spent ice skating, or a quiet moment talking with a friend.
If you are conscious of these moments, if you learn to appreciate yourself and all you do, you will find peace -- for now and from now on.
Peace is what we all yearn for, both personally and globally.