During the holiday season, our schedules fill up with more activities. Stress and worries tend to be amplified at this time of the year. It can feel like everything is speeding up and at times speeding out of control.
Your nervous system is tuned into providing you with quick boosts of energy when things feel particularly busy. It is really good at that.
And as your nervous system speeds up, so does the brain, inundating you with endless lists, worries and activity. Sometimes it can feel like you have a zillion thoughts in your head going nowhere fast.
The problem with a brain and nervous system on overdrive is that it is not sustainable. Your body isn’t designed to sustain a heightened stress level.
In addition, finding time for ‘relaxation’ seems like an impossible task to add to an already impossible list.
When life creates this heightened activity you are given a great opportunity.
One of the greatest gifts of the winter holiday season is not presents. It is presence.
So how do we create presence when our nervous systems are in overdrive?
The way your nervous system works when you are highly stressed is that the emotional brain cuts off access to your thinking brain so that you can react more quickly. This is your sympathetic nervous system at work. Its job is to keep you safe.
The challenge is to activate your parasympathetic nervous system whose job is to help you heal and restore.
These two parts of your nervous system are meant to work together and be in harmony to keep you healthy. When the sympathetic nervous system takes over, though, your entire system goes out of whack! And you start catching every flu and cold going around.
The most effective way to shift out of overdrive and bring everything back into harmony is to use the power of your heart.
Here are a few tips to help you do that. Each of these tips activate the parasympathetic nervous system and allows you to shift from Presents to Presence.
TIP 1: Shift from Brain to Heart
- Take a deep, slow inhale to a count of 4
- Exhale slowly to a count of 4
- As you inhale again to a count of 4, imagine that you are inhaling into your heart
- As you exhale to a count of 4, imagine exhaling from your heart
- Continue inhaling and exhaling to a count of 4 from your heart for 10 more breaths
- Notice how you feel.
TIP 2: Gratitude
This is the perfect thing to do after you have completed the 10 breaths from Tip 1 with your focus on your heart.
- With your focus on your heart, write down (or record on your phone) 3 things you are grateful for.
- Feel gratitude in your heart for each of the things you wrote down.
TIP 3: Vocalized Sigh
A sigh is your body’s natural way of releasing excess nervous energy from your nervous system. A sigh actually stimulates the release of hormones that helps your body heal and manage pain. When you vocalize the sigh on a long ahhhhh… it stimulates a more powerful release of these hormones.
- Inhale and exhale to a slow count of 4
- Inhale and exhale again to a slow count of 4 with your focus on your heart
- Inhale slowly again and as you exhale slowly, vocalize a long ahhhhh….
- Do this 3 more times
- Notice how you feel.
These tips aren’t just for the holidays. Use them whenever you need them to add more ahhh to your day.
As you become more present within your daily life, you will notice that the beautiful qualities shining within your heart begin to shine in your life – compassion, love, joy, bliss, fun, resilience and more.
Ed and I wish you health and harmony and hugs for the holidays.