For some folks, Thanksgiving is a stressful time. Families can be stressful. Attempting to cook that perfect bird can be stressful. It also signals the beginning of the holidays. More stress. Gift buying, hectic schedules, more food, more alcohol, more worrying about your weight, and more stress in your life. We get overwhelmed with it all and forget the entire reason for the Thanksgiving holiday, which is to be thankful. And being thankful is one of the best ways to alleviate stress.
In our stress management classes, we teach some basics of stress management. The first is that we have little control over the stress in our lives, but we have 100% control of our reactions to that stress. Stress doesn’t kill anyone. It’s our reactions to that stress that causes all of the problems. The second thing is that instead of reducing or eliminating stress, we teach participants to build in more recovery throughout their day. And recovery can be simple things such as a short walk, a coffee break, a few deep breaths, looking at a photo of your family, or watching a funny video. Try to take some kind of break every 90 to 120 minutes.
We also teach basic breathing, meditation and mindfulness techniques. Proper breathing is essential for reducing stress. Most of us use the top 1/3 of our lungs and don’t take in enough air. This causes lack of oxygenation of the blood and less oxygen in the brain. Did you know that cancer cannot thrive in a high oxygen environment? It also puts us into a low state of fight/flight. Adrenalin and cortisol are increased. Our thinking brain shuts down.
We offer a very simple meditation technique where you close your eyes and count your deep, diaphragmatic breaths. Breathe in and out and mentally count one. Breathe in and out and count two. Breathe in and out and count three. Breathe in and out and count four. Then start over at one. Other thoughts will come into your head. Just politely dismiss them and go back to your breathing and counting. Do this for three to five minutes and see what a difference it makes.
Mindfulness is another great stress management technique. It’s simple, but not easy. It’s being totally in the moment throughout your day without judgment. I will cover mindfulness in part two.
So what is the best thing you can to do help with the holiday stress? Take a few deep breaths and count your blessings. It is physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. Try it. You can even combine this with the meditation exercise and instead of numbers, when you breathe out, think about a blessing in your life.
If you want more information to help with your stress, I have a FREE meditation CD available on my website. Go to http://www.brentdarnell.com, click on the download center, register and create a profile, and download the CD.
If you want even more information, check out Stress Management, Time Management, and Life Balance for Tough Guys: http://www.amazon.com/Stress-Management-Time-Balance-Tough/dp/0979925843/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_5