I’m amazed at how many of my friends are to the point of an emotional breakdown trying to “get ready for Christmas.” Even the phrase makes me laugh as it’s usually said with as much alarm as “getting ready for a snowstorm.” There’s no doubt that this mass frenzy is imposed on us by retailers and the media. And so, people race from store to store, buying gifts that will be forgotten in a few months, decorating the house and baking more cookies than anyone should eat in a year – all to create that elusive “picture-perfect Christmas.”
Until this year, I fell into that category as well. I had list upon list of things that needed to get done. I found myself snapping at the kids and my husband because I was so tense trying to make everyone happy for Christmas. The image of Ellen Griswold from Christmas Vacation, desperately sneaking a cigarette in the kitchen as she’s trying to cope with her family always comes to mind. This past Christmas, I hit my breaking point. My uncle and cousin’s husband were both in the hospital, one dying of cancer, the other nearly dying from a case of MRSA he contracted in the hospital. My mother was completely freaked out with stress dealing with my dad who has Alzheimer’s on Christmas Eve and then, I ended up at Urgent Care with him on Christmas Day for issues related to his diabetes. I swore to myself I would never, EVER have a Christmas like that again. In fact, I realized then that I needed to change the way I was coping with life every day of the year.
So I made some serious commitments that ended up changing my life and making me happier, healthier and more peaceful. Here’s what they are:
I visualize – Regardless of what I’m dealing with right now, I focus on the way I want life to be and I see myself living it.
I pray – Prayer works. And, with social media, asking for the prayers of friends makes it even stronger. But, there’s a way to pray. Praying to win a million dollars isn’t it. Rather I pray for guidance, strength, peace and acceptance.
I breathe – I know that sounds strange but have you ever noticed when you’re stressed your entire body tenses up? Practice taking 5 deep inhalations and exhalations while you’re sitting at a traffic light, in a meeting or whenever you need to release tension.
I meditate – Meditation can take many forms and can be done in as little as 5 minutes although the longer the better. Some of the top CEO’s in the country attribute meditation to their success which is not surprising since studies have linked it to a decrease in blood pressure, reduction of chronic pain and the increase in circulation.
I practice yoga – Often, I don’t have enough time for an entire yoga class so I practice for 10 minutes at home. Even this small bit makes a complete difference in how I feel throughout the day. But, when I can do a class, I’ve had the good fortunate of finding a yoga instructor who makes everyone feel at ease whether they’re a novice or more experienced. The last thing anyone wants is to be stressed by a class that is supposed to be de-stressing you!
I realized this past week that I’m different this year. I’m lighter and happier. I’m not on edge and I’m certainly not stressed about “being ready for Christmas.” I’m better able to deal with situations and stay calm.
So, here’s the question:
DO YOU WANT TO BE MORE JOYFUL AND LESS STRESSED?
Join me and yoga instructor Matan Cohen-Citron for a life-changing half-day retreat to learn how to become happier, healthier and in control of your own life.