How to Relax During a Hectic Holiday Season

Its easy to get caught up in the commotion of the holiday season – rushing around buying gifts, visiting family, preparing big meals – it can be exhausting.

And sometimes the stress you feel during the holidays is just like finals week.

So here are some tips on how to relax:

Eat healthy
I know its difficult to eat right during the holidays, but too much sugar can make it difficult to relax. Try to eat balanced meals whenever possible.

Take time every morning to meditate – especially before a busy day. Download the free relaxation mp3s (that I blogged about earlier) to help you stay focused and calm during meditation.

Sleep well
One way to keep your body in harmony is to stay on a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up during the same times you typically do. Take power naps if you need more rest throughout the day.

Take deep breaths
There are many benefits to breathing deeply in meditation, and one of them is to help you refresh your mind. I personally like Dr. Weil’s deep breathing exercises when I’m feeling tired:

1. Inhale through your nose for four seconds
2. Hold your breath for seven seconds
3. Exhale through tightly pursed lips, creating “back pressure,” for eight seconds.
4. Do this eight times, twice a day, everyday.

Go walk
Light exercise can help calm your mind and can help you stay stress-free during a hectic day. Try walking every morning.

Avoid negative people
People who are negative can cause you more stress. Try to stay around positive people whenever possible – and participate in activities that make you happy.

Where Do You Nap on Campus?

Ive been a sleep-deprived college student for over 7 years, and Ive had to take my share of naps on campus.

As an undergrad, Ive napped all over the Charles E. Young Research Library. I usually tried to find a spot far from the air conditioning vent on the secluded 5th floor – near the corner where the Z section is at. This was my spot to research, write, and nap on a regular basis. It was always very quiet – and I wrote dozens of papers there.

As a graduate student, I now take brief naps in my car prior to class – and occasionally in the library.

So where do you nap?

Recommended Reading

3 Breathing Exercises to Help You Reduce Stress

While on Winter break, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family. I’ve also been trying to catch up on some reading.

Lately, I’ve been reading Dr. Weil’s articles on how to reduce anxiety through breathing exercises. Here are some excerpts from his books that Ive found most helpful:

The Stimulating Breath
Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Try for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. This produces a quick movement of the diaphragm, suggesting a bellows. Breathe normally after each cycle. If done properly, you may feel invigorated, comparable to the heightened awareness you feel after a good workout.

The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Breath Counting
If you want to get a feel for this challenging work, try your hand at breath counting, a deceptively simple technique much used in Zen practice. Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary. To begin the exercise, count one to yourself as you exhale. The next time you exhale, count two, and so on up to five. Then begin a new cycle, counting one on the next exhalation. Never count higher than five, and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to eight, 12, even 19. Try to do 10 minutes of this form of meditation.

Read about the specifics of each breathing exercise . . .

Recommended Reading