Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The following was sent to me by a friend in regard to the stress so many of us feel during the holiday season!

As the holidays approach quickly and potential stressors give rise to both joy and a sense of overwhelm, I want to share some words of advice from Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., Director Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine:

Holiday activities can add stress in many ways. For example, there are likely to be more things to do, more disruptions of your usual routines of life, more disturbances of rest and sleep, and changes in what you eat and drink. While many of these are enjoyable, they can take a toll on body, mind, and spirit. And don't forget "time stress". This is the feeling of never having time enough to do what is needed, is often experienced as a restlessness and uneasiness, and may appear as legs or feet shaking vigorously as if to say "Hurry up, let's go" to the rest of the body.

What can you do to gain freedom from this seemingly endless round of busyness?

· Take time each day to stop and to be present with yourself and life, just as it is. For example, for 5 minutes 4 times a day, stop and practice "being" instead of doing. Bring attention to the sensations of your own breath and body and allow them to flow naturally as you simply pay kind attention to the experience. See the exercise at the end of this article for more instructions. Practice for longer periods than 5 minutes if you wish.
· Give yourself time each day for rest and play. You may need to schedule this, just as you would schedule a meeting or a lunch date with a friend. Also, learn to use the time you are waiting for something or someone as "free time." Practice being mindful and connecting and being present through paying gentle attention during these times.
· Give yourself permission to say "no" to invitations, or to leave events early. This will result in more time and flexibility for you. It also leads to a feeling of being back in control of your life.
· Look for ways to simplify your life, not only during the holidays but afterwards as well. For example, review your holiday patterns of gift giving, card sending, or party going. Look for ways to simplify without losing the essence or meaning of what you are doing. Apply similar review to other aspects of your life. Be willing to let go of anything that is no longer important or meaningful for you.
· Above all, have kindness and compassion (a little "holiday spirit") for yourself. Especially when you don't do things "perfectly." Or you forget to do any of the above or anything else you meant to do.

Remember, inner peace exists outside the domain of time. Learn to connect and "be" with what is here. This will lead you to dwell more in your own inner stillness regardless of the outer circumstances. As you do that, you will surely be "home for the holidays."

Have a warm and wonderful holiday!

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