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Calm for the holidays - Harvard Health Blog

Move your body

Moving to do just about any exercise boosts your mood and manages your anxiety.

Just going for a walk can balance your emotions and provide positivity.

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Calm for the holidays - Harvard Health Blog

Calm for the holidays - Harvard Health Blog

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/calm-for-the-holidays-2018121015513

health.harvard.edu

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Key Ideas

Calm for the Holidays

A few quick ways to take holiday stress down, relax and invoke your calmer self:

  • Breathe deeply.
  • Exercise.
  • Diffuse charged conversations.

Deep Breathing

When your emotions run high, breathing speeds up, too. Slowing your breathing down relaxes tense muscles, bringing shoulders down from ears, calms roiling emotions, and helps disarm the hormonal cascade within the body that feeds anxiety.

Just five minutes of deep breathing can calm you effectively.

Diffuse Charged Conversations

Many relatives would tread into topics that are going to raise your blood pressure. Diffuse inflaming conversations and remain your calm self.

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Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”

How it’s done:  Inhale for a count of 4, then exhale for a count of 4, all through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. Once you manage it, you can go up to a c...

Abdominal Breathing Technique
How it’s done: With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. The goal: 6 to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure.

When it works best: Before an exam, or any stressful event.

Nadi Shodhana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”

How it’s done: Starting in a comfortable meditative pose, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Continue the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb and exhaling through the left nostril.

When it works best: Crunch time, or whenever it’s time to focus or energize.

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Breathing exercises

Breathing is at the core of ancient (and currently trendy) mindfulness practices, from yoga and tai chi to meditation.

However, studies suggest that breathing exercises alone, derived from...

Deep, controlled breathing

It involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing.

It has been linked to improved cognitive performance, lower stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

Breathing and yoga
Belief in the benefits of controlled breathing goes back centuries.

Central to ancient Hindu philosophy was prana, described as vital “airs” or “energies” flowing through the body. Stemming from that belief, yoga was built on pranayama or breath retention. 

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Mindful Wakeup
Mindful Wakeup

First thing in the morning:

  • Close your eyes and connect with the sensations of your seated body.
  • Take three long, deep, nourishing breaths—breathing in through your nose and out ...
Mindful Eating
  • Breathe before eating. 
  • Listen to your body and measure your hunger.
  • Eat according to your hunger. You can more mindfully choose what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. 
  • Practice peaceful eating. It’s not easy to digest or savor your food if you aren’t relaxed.
  • If you don’t love it, don’t eat it. Make a mindful choice about what to eat based on what you really enjoy.
Mindful Pause
  • Trip over what you want to do. If you intend to do some yoga or to meditate, put your yoga mat or your meditation cushion in the middle of your floor.
  • Refresh your triggers regularly - add variety or make them funny so they stick with you longer.
  • Create new patterns. You could try a series of “If this, then that” messages to create easy reminders to shift into slow brain.

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