Meditation Tools for Holiday Stress

By Andrea Renee Rivera | Certified Yoga and Meditation Instructor

The holidays can trigger challenging emotions including anxiety, anger and depression. According to a survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association, the top three holiday stressors are “lack of time, lack of money and commercialism or hype” -Berktold J, Greeenberg A. “Holiday Stress.” American Psychological Association, 2006.

Stressful thoughts that make us feel afraid, depressed and angry can prevent us from connecting with our loved ones during the holidays, decrease our emotional quality of life and can make us physically sick.

Negative thoughts tell our mind and body that we are threatened. This perceived threat triggers our nervous system to go into a survival fight or flight sympathetic stress response. In stress our physiology responds by shutting down our digestive and immune systems which can trigger disease syndromes such as IBS, Colitis, Heart Burn, Allergies, Colds and Flus. The simultaneous release of stress chemicals combined with a blood sugar spike also makes us irritable and gain weight. Overall stress stops our body from being able to repair and rejuvenate us which affects our well being and over time can cause disease.

This is why meditation can be such an important tool to use in our daily lives to stop our negative thought patterns that can cause emotional turmoil, strained relationships and disease. Though it is easy to forget, we are actually in control of our mind’s TV remote control. When we experience stress we can respond by choosing to change from a relationship straining, disease causing stressful channel to an empowering, more supportive, health promoting, calm, grounded, conscious and re-energizing channel with the following meditation tools of conscious breathing and chanting.

1. “So-Hum” Chanting tool

Breathing deeply while chanting silently in ones mind or out loud the simple sounds “So” as we inhale and “Hum” as we exhale with a sigh gets us out of our stressful heads and into our body so we can relax and refocus. In just 15 minutes of conscious abdominal deep breathing and re-focused attention we can calm our anger and frustration and bring us back to state of being in which we can solve our challenges with clear conscious reason and love. This 15 minute time out can reset our entire nervous system from fight or flight back into its ideal parasympathetic rest, digest and repair response that promotes our well being, health and longevity.

2. 4/8 breathing tool

In as little at 2 minutes of consciously breathing in to the count of 4 and out to the count of 8 into our hand held over our abdomen we can stop panic attacks, heart palpitations and anxiety.

3. Conscious Snack Eating and Tea Drinking

Eating slowly with awareness, focusing on the taste, texture and chewing of food or swishing a drink thoroughly before swallowing and taking pauses between bites and sips can take us out of our stressed heads and bring us back into our bodies to a feeling grounded calm. When eat and drink slowly, savoring and honoring our act of supportive nourishment we also give our mind and body the necessary time to recognize we have eaten triggering our satiated/full response which helps us eat less and reduce weight gain during the holiday season.

© 2017 Health Realizations, Inc. Andrea Renee Rivera is a Certified Yoga and Meditation Instructor, Medical Chigong Practitioner and Masters Candidate at Yo San University of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

As published in Wellness on Wheels Newsletter — Spring, 2017