If you feel stressed and anxious more often than not then welcome to the club. In our ever increasingly busy world of information overload, these two unwanted companions can seem to take up permanent residency in our lives. Having to maintain the work/life balance while simultaneously multitasking endless to do lists can get to be quite overwhelming which creates the perfect storm of unwanted feels. How does one navigate these storms of certain woe? It may be more simple than you think and doesn’t take much time from your busy day. When you begin to feel these pesky squatters start to take up space in your mind, use these two following steps:
1. With either your eyes open or closed, begin to count your breaths (without changing your normal breathing patterns) from 1 to 10 with 1 being your inhaling breath and 2 being your exhaling breath up to 10.
2. Focus only on the counting (if you find yourself thinking random thoughts as you count – that’s totally fine, observe them, dismiss them, and refocus on the counting)
Unlike having to create addition time like most activities designed to get you to a place of calm, this can be done on your way to whatever demands of the day require. The best part is it can be as little as a minute or up to an hour, YOU pick the amount of time you need to get to your happy place. Now doesn’t that amount of control make you feel devilishly good inside? It’s okay to admit it because YOU ROCK! Now go forward and continue to conquer all of life’s demands you busy go-getters!
Does success lead to happiness or does happiness lead to success? According to author and Psychologist Shawn Achor, the latter is true. If you increase your level of positivity in the present, the brain will experience something termed “The Happiness Advantage”. Achor states most business models, education models and even parenting styles teach hard work leads to success which in turn leads to happiness. This formula is broken and backwards according to a 12 year of study at Harvard University. How does one achieve the Happiness Advantage?
Loss and grief are some of the most powerful emotions we can experience and during the holiday season, symptoms of grief that have previously relented, might suddenly return. Such is the case with many clients I treat. For some, grief is new, for some their loss has occurred years earlier. Either way, the truth of loss is that we are never truly finished with grieving when someone significant to us dies. However, (and my clients challenge this!) there are many ways to live with the loss without suffering from it. Here are some suggestions to manage grief during the holidays:
1 – Create rituals and memorials of your loved one. It is helpful to draw on your personal spiritual and cultural beliefs to guide you in the creation of a meaningful remembrance. For example, one client put up a “Chicago Bulls” tree in honor of her son, who was an avid fan.
2 – Meditate by intentionally remembering both the happy and sad memories. Avoidance rarely works and leads to more suffering. Set aside time and space to do this meditation-either journaling, listening to calming music or looking at fun pictures shared with your loved one.
3 – Draw on your support system. Reach out to friends or others who share your grief and let them know this is a difficult time for you. Attend an event with them or just spend time with friends as a diversion. Isolation creates more suffering.
4 – Reconnect with a therapist or former grief group. Re-entering therapy for a session or two can aid in reminding yourself of tools used in grieving. Or just simply processing what you are experiencing with a professional can be helpful. Attending a grief group often helps as well.
5 – Change holiday gatherings to limit painful reminders. Maybe it’s time to gather for a breakfast instead of a traditional dinner that your loved one was the focus of. Having gift exchanges on a new day or omitting them and volunteering for a charity in behalf of your loved one can be very healing.
Using the above suggesting can decrease suffering. Of course there will always be a void when someone you have loved so much is no longer seen on
a daily basis, but many have found every year hurts a little less than the year before, and as one client stated ” I try not to focus on my own individual pain and try to focus more on the fact that those I have lost are no longer hurting”. Thinking about it that way can bring more comfort and solace.