The holidays are well under way and what comes with that is the inevitable holiday stress! It can be a not-so-merry time for parents – kids are out of their normal routine, hyped-up on sugar and grumpy after being up too late at holiday parties! Instead of soothing and calming your nerves this year with sugar cookies and candy canes, one of my favorite mindful eating experts, New York Times best-selling author Dr. Susan Albers, recommends these 9 natural techniques in her book, 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food.
Treat these following 9 techniques as an experiment and see what you learn along the way:
1) Ho-Ho-Ho Meditation: Holidays are stressful and a recipe for stress eating. Close your eyes and do 3 Santa-Clause-like belly laughs in a simple laughing yoga exercise. Laughing yoga has been shown to reduce your cortisol level, the stress hormone that makes you crave sugary, fatty, salty foods. Creating a moment of laughter can be as simple as googling “funny baby videos” or “viral videos” on youtube.
2) Tea Time. Say bye-bye to pumpkin lattes! Sip Cinnamon tea instead. Cinnamon is clinically shown to help regulate blood sugar which can help you to avoid sugary treats. Also, the scent of cinnamon is calming and a sweet, calorie-free treat that says “Happy, healthy Holidays!”
3) Munch Well. Does simply chewing on something make you feel better? Try gnawing on leftover pumpkin seeds that you dry and roast. This chewy snack will satisfy your need to munch, and it contains L-tryptophan which helps to naturally combat depression and the blues.
4) Take a Squeegee Breathe: Have you ever used a squeegee on a car or kitchen window? In a sweeping motion, you can wipe a window clean in one stroke, leaving a shiny and clear pane of glass in its place. Use this imagery when you need to let go of stress, worry, or irritation. Take a deep breath. Focus on the top of your head. As you exhale, imagine the stress escaping along with your breath. Visualize the squeegee going all the way from your head down to your toes. Repeat 3 times.
5) Make origami. According to research, origami is a good distraction and it has been shown to stimulate the frontal cortex—the part of the brain that makes decisions, including food decisions. This activity also fun to do with your kids. Slip your origami pieces into a holiday card or hide a fun message in the folds.
6) Shoe Meditation: Create a shoe ritual. As you slip off your heels or boots from work, say, “I leave my stress here at the door.” This mantra will help you to let go of the day’s stress instead of trying to shed your stress by munching your way through the kitchen with a pre-dinner, post-work snack.
7) Turn Up The Heat: Place your PJs in the dryer for a five minutes before going to bed. Research indicates that raising your body temperature slightly can help you get to sleep faster and rest easier.
8) Do a Mind Makeover to get a different perspective on a stressful situation. In the “5 meditation” you close your eyes and imagine how stressful on a scale from 1-10 this event will feel in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 years, 5 decades. This shift in perspective can remind you not to sweat the small stuff and avoid dwelling on the negative.
9) When you feel life is spinning out of control it’s helpful to do a grounding technique. Place your elbows on the table and rub your hands together quickly until you feel the warmth. Place your palms over your eyes to transfer the heat for a soothing moment. Or, put yourself in the Child’s yoga pose – sitting with your legs tucked under you. Then, place your forehead on the ground or a pillow to “ground” your emotions.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Adapted from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy