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Healthy Living Blog

Information and inspiration to help you make a habit out of living healthy.


4 Relaxation Techniques for Your Holiday Season

Friday, November 16, 2018

By , YMCA Registered Dietitian

The time has come to swap our ghouls and goblins for turkeys and reindeer. The holiday season means times of great joy as we gather around dinner tables and Christmas trees, but it can also be a time of great anxiety.

With all the shopping, planning and partying, it's often hard to find a moment of peace in the middle of the chaos this time of year brings. While it can be easy to get wrapped up in the madness, it is important to stop the stress before it takes a toll on your physical and mental health. It's simply not worth it!

Stress has a harsh effect on all systems of the body. From symptoms of moodiness, fatigue and insomnia, to elevated blood pressure, stomach cramps, headaches and even increased risk of heart attack, being in a prolonged state of stress can be dangerous.

So, in between cooking a flawless Thanksgiving turkey and finding the perfect present for your loved ones, remember to take care of yourself, too. Use the following four relaxation techniques to help calm your mind and find joy this holiday season.

1. Visualization

This technique is also referred to as guided imagery. Start by creating a detailed mental image that brings you peace. Try to use all of your senses—sight, smell, touch, sound, and even taste to really make it a serene and happy place. Fully immerse yourself in order to calm your thoughts and relax your mind. Once you've created this imagery, you can come back to it in your mind whenever you're feeling stressed or anxious. This can often be used in conjunction with breathing techniques.

2. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Take a deep breath, and make sure your abdomen hand rises higher than the one on your chest. Breathe in through your nose while counting to seven, and out through your mouth while counting to eight, making sure to exhale fully. Practice this for a few breaths or a few minutes. 

3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This technique focuses on tensing specific muscle groups and then relaxing them in order to achieve total body relaxation. You can be seated or lying down for this practice, but try to find a place relatively free of distractions. The muscle group progression can vary to your liking, but here's a sample sequence to follow: feet→ calves→ thighs→ stomach→ chest→ back→ fists→ biceps→ neck→ face.

4. Autogenic Training

This technique seeks to simulate the relaxation found in hypnosis by creating heaviness and warmth throughout the body. Find a quiet place to lie down and loosen any restrictive clothing. While breathing deeply, say to yourself, "I am completely calm. My arms are heavy. My arms are warm." Repeat with each body part. Be patient with yourself as your body learns to be still.

Establish healthier habits with the Y

Growing in spirit, mind and body is the surest path to holistic well-being. Learn how to use focused prayer on the treadmill this holiday season or find your perfect yoga practice. The Y also offers Spirit and Mind workshops, seminars and small group classes. Let us help support your physical, emotional, spiritual and financial health.

YMCA of Middle Tennessee

Association Office
1000 Church St.
Nashville, TN 37203
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