By Alexa Santory
Aside from all the gifts, food and cheer, the holidays are truly an excellent time for reflection. The year is winding down, another one that feels like it flew by and lasted forever all at once — what are you reflecting on this time around? This time of year always tends to be pretty stressful and ending the year on that note doesn’t set you up to face the new year head on. Although we still have a few more weeks until the new year, now is the perfect time to start centering yourself and getting rid of anxiety about what’s to come.
How do you center yourself?
For some of us (most of us), life has a tendency to seem a little all over the place. We wake up tired and go to bed wired because our minds are racing racing, racing all day long. We’re worried, we’re stressed, we don’t know what the future will bring… so why don’t we try chilling out a bit, start trusting the process a little more? This is easier said than done since most of us are control freaks, whether we admit it or not. Let’s try and learn to let some of that go-- the sooner you accept that the only things you can truly control are yourself and your actions, the easier life gets Centering yourself is a super valuable skill for those frantic, anxious moments; it helps you regain your composure when you’re feeling scattered and worn thin. We know how stressful the holidays can be — so much to be done in so little time, and you have to worry about your regular life?! Here are some ways to center yourself when things start to feel a tad overwhelming.
Breathing is the ultimate self soothing method, and something we tend to forget to do when we’re feeling stressed out. When you’re starting to go into panic mode, focus on your breath. Fill your lungs to their very tops for 3 counts, hold it for 3 counts, and let it out for 3 counts. Keep doing this until you feel your heartbeat has regulated a bit (our hearts beat way faster when we panic, which is why some people may get serious chest pains during panic attacks) and your mind is clearer. Then go back to what you were doing, hopefully with a better focus this time!
Negative self-talk is a self esteem killer. When faced with challenges of any size, we often tell ourselves “I can’t,” “I won’t,” and “I shouldn’t.” This type of self-talk is what holds us back from reaching our fullest potential. Think about all of the challenges you’ve faced before to make it to this point. Whatever is in front of you is nothing you can’t overcome. Remind yourself with positive affirmations: I can, I will, I should. You’re so much stronger than you realize.
If you’re in a particularly stressful situation, try some mindful meditation. Mindfulness forces us to focus on the now and what’s right in front of us, rather than what’s 20 steps ahead — a habit that’s common amongst those of us with anxiety. Whenever you have a free moment, take a few minutes to yourself, sit down in a comfortable place, close your eyes, and focus your mind on your breath. Your mind will want to wander, but recognize when it does and reel it back in. After about 5 to 10 minutes of mindful breathing, you should feel calmer and more ready to tackle the task at hand!
This game is an excellent tool for when you’re feeling panicky. It helps you ground yourself by focusing on your five senses and helps you cope when you feel like things are getting out of control. It goes like this: identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. By identifying these things, you’re forcing your mind to stay focused on the present moment rather than what’s making your anxious.
Tuning into your wants and needs
Twenty-eighteen has been a year. Everyone I know has been through hell and back in some capacity this year, and one of their biggest takeaways from it all is that they are now more in tune with themselves and the things they want and need. How can we tune into those desires without going through something essentially as traumatic as 2018 has been?
Listen to your body
Although your heart and your mind may be struggling to come to a consensus, your gut will always tell you what’s right. If things are feeling off, whether internal or external, it’s probably because they are. Identify exactly how you’re feeling. Listen to that instinct and it will lead you on the path you’re meant to be on.
Thoughts become real things and those negative thoughts at the forefront of your mind will probably come to be if you give them enough power. Find the strength within yourself to think positively about everything in your life. Write them down in your journal. Thinking about the things you want and need the most will appear in your life when you’re ready for them.
Give your body what it needs
Tuning into yourself also means giving your body the things it needs to function well. Getting plenty of sleep (I’m talkin 7-8 hours every night), drinking at least 3 liters of water a day, eating your veggies, and staying active are the fundamentals to a happy mind and body. Once you have all of those things, everything else will fall into place.
Ask yourself and others for what you need
Talk to yourself and figure out what you need in order to be happy. Dig deep. And ask the people you care about for what you need. We often have a hard time asserting those thoughts with other people, but someone who truly cares will try to give it to you.
There are so many factors that play into why the holidays are a more emotionally heavy time of year. The emotions also exist on two opposite ends of the spectrum, with one side cheerful and joyous, and the other side melancholy. We get it, this time of year can be bittersweet, but the health of your mind is way more important than any holiday on any calendar. Don’t neglect yourself during the holiday season while trying to keep everyone else happy. Be gentle with yourself, you’re only human after all.