The holiday season is fast approaching with the pretty festive lights brightening up the dark nights. This is one of my favourite times of the year but I know it can also be quite a stressful time for many people. Try these tips and remember to enjoy.
Mini-relaxations to ease holiday stress
You can’t necessarily eliminate the seasonal stressors. But you can counter them using the mini-relaxation exercises described below, adapted from Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
When you’ve got 1 minute
Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.
Another one-minute relaxation technique is to sit comfortably and take slow, deep breaths. Each time you breathe in, say to yourself “I am.” As you breathe out, say “At peace.” Repeat this several times. Feel your entire body relax into the support of the chair.
When you’ve got 2 minutes
Count down slowly from 10 to zero. With each number, take one complete breath, inhaling and exhaling. For example, breathe in deeply saying “10″ to yourself. Breathe out slowly. On your next breath, say “nine,” and so on. If you feel lightheaded, count down more slowly to space your breaths further apart. When you reach zero, you should feel more relaxed. If not, go through the exercise again.
When you’ve got 3 minutes
Sit down and take a break from whatever you’re doing. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to fall open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so that there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly. Each time you breathe out, relax even more.
When you’ve got 5 minutes
Try self-massage. A combination of strokes works well to relieve muscle tension. Try gentle chops with the edge of your hands or tapping with fingers or cupped palms. Put fingertip pressure on muscle knots. Knead across muscles, and try long, light, gliding strokes. You can apply these strokes to any part of the body that falls easily within your reach. For a short session like this, try focusing on your neck and head.
Start by kneading the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders. Make a loose fist and drum swiftly up and down the sides and back of your neck. Use your thumbs to work tiny circles around the base of your skull. Slowly massage the rest of your scalp with your fingertips. Then tap your fingers against your scalp, moving from the front to the back and then over the sides.
Massage your face. Make a series of tiny circles with your thumbs or fingertips. Pay particular attention to your temples, forehead, and jaw muscles. Use your middle fingers to massage the bridge of your nose and work outward over your eyebrows to your temples.
When you’ve got 10 minutes
Try imagining yourself away from stress. Start by sitting comfortably in a quiet room. Breathe deeply for a few minutes. Now picture yourself in a place that conjures up good memories. What do you smell — the heavy scent of roses on a hot day, crisp autumn air, the wholesome smell of baking bread? What do you hear?
Drink in the colors and shapes that surround you. Focus on sensory pleasures: the swoosh of a gentle wind; soft, cool grass tickling your feet; the salty smell and rhythmic beat of the ocean. Passively observe intrusive thoughts, and then gently disengage from them to return to the world you’ve created.
If you enjoyed this, then be sure to visit the blog The Happy Acupuncturist to read more articles, tips and health news.
Black beans: One of the best foods for longevity and health
Black beans is a highly underrated ingredient to a healthy you. It is good for you anytime of year but especially good during the winter when your body is “hibernating” and in conserving mode, ready for the spring. I often recommend it cooked in the slow cooker as that’s the easiest way but for something you can have right away, try this black bean hummus recipe from Dr Mao’s blog.
Get ready for winter, the Chinese medicine way
Winter is a time of harnessing energy and rooting our system. See how you can use this season to benefit your body. Read these tips for a healthy winter.
Give the gift of wellness
Take the stress out of Christmas shopping and give pointspace gift certificates this year. Whether it’s for that friend who’s curious about acupuncture or someone you know who would absolutely love a relaxing cosmetic experience, a pointspace gift voucher is a wonderful way of treating someone. Gift certificates are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase – email me or ask about them at your next appointment.
Read past issues from the newsletter archive.
Other news: Christmas holiday appointments availability
I will be available for appointments up until Monday, 23 December 2013.
There is limited availability from Friday, 27 December 2013 to Friday, 3 January 2014, email me for appointments.
Normal office hours resume from the week of 5 January 2014. Please call to make a booking:
The Hale Clinic 020 7631 0156 or
Neal’s Yard Remedies, King’s Road 020 7225 2050
I learned something new from this amazing image of butterflies drinking a turtle's tears: The mineral-rich liquid of the yellow-spotted river turtle apparently helps the butterflies reproduce. In exchange, the reptile gets a good eye-cleaning.
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Be safe and happy holidays!
Coming Next Month
A brand new you
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