Alright, let’s have a quick pre-holiday huddle to discuss your game plan for tomorrow. Not where you’re going to celebrate or what side dish you’re going to bring, but what you’re going to do if it all gets to be too much.
Big family celebrations can be overwhelming as it is, add the emotions of grief and they can be downright paralyzing. If most of the family is grieving the same loss, it may feel like there is a cloud of sadness hanging over the day and there’s the collective sense that the holiday will never be the same again. On the other hand, if you are the only person grieving at your holiday celebration you may have to field multiple questions from many different people about how you’re doing and you may feel alone in your sadness and worried you’re bringing the whole party down.
No matter what the reason, even the most super patient, composed person who loves being around family and friends occasionally needs to take a breather from all the togetherness. In anticipation of tomorrow’s celebration we’d like to offer you a few quick tips for taking a time out to relax, calm down, and refocus in under 5 minutes.
Find an excuse to slip away and have a few minutes of peace and quiet.
As a textbook introvert I’ve mastered the art of getting away without anyone noticing; sometimes all you need is just a teeny tiny break from all the stimulation. A word to the wise though, don’t disappear for too long if you don’t want people asking ‘Where have YOU been?’.
Practice deep breathing.
A quick way to calm down is to breathe slowly from your diaphragm. Try standing up and breathing in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, and let the breath out through your mouth. As you breathe imagine you are filling up a balloon (in) and deflating it (out).
Listen to music.
Do you find there are certain songs that calm you down? If so, load them onto your phone, iPod, or a CD. When you feel yourself getting anxious sneak off and listen to a few songs. Quick tip: download the Pandora app onto your phone, create a free account, and choose a channel according to whatever type of music you find relaxing (Try: Solo Piano Radio or soundtrack composer Thomas Newman Radio). You might also want to try Spotify which can be downloaded onto your phone as well. Spotify allows you to browse playlists according to your mood (Try: Rainy Day or Calm Down).
Have a cup of tea.
Although Chamomile and Herbal tea are great, any type might work to help soothe the stress hormone.
Get some fresh air.
True it may be cold outside, but breathing in that fresh air can help give you a change of perspective and reinvigorate you. Additionally sunlight boosts seratonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating appetite, sleep, memory and mood.
Relax those muscles and release some of the tension that’s been building up all day in your body. Roll your head from side to side, release the tension in your jaw by opening your mouth wide for a minute, touch your toes, or try tensing and relaxing your muscles one at time from your head down to your toes.
If you feel yourself starting to slip into negativity and sadness, look around for one or two things to be grateful for.
Recognize what you can and can’t control.
Try not to get stuck on the negative aspects of your holiday that you can’t change, but take advantage of those that you can. You can’t control the fact that the holidays are different now that your loved one is gone, but you can try and focus on the things that still manage to make you feel happiness and comfort. You can’t force your uncle to stop rambling on about his enraging political beliefs, but you can choose to leave the room and walk away from an anxiety provoking situation.
Hang with the kids.
Are there kids underfoot? As someone who frequently walks away from the grownups to quietly color or sit on the swings with the kids, I can personally attest to the benefits of escaping the adult world for a little play. Bonus: if the kids are outside kicking the soccer ball or throwing around a football, you get the added stress releasing benefits of exercise. No joke, taking a few minutes to play can be a great pick me up and exactly the break you need.
Lock yourself in the bathroom.
Sometimes it’s the only viable escape route, but it will do the trick. Lock the door behind you, sit for a few minutes, close your eyes and take deep breaths.
Laughter increases blood flow and can help you to reset a negative attitude. Go hang out with your funniest aunt, tell a funny story, or my personal favorite, watch a funny Youtube video.
If you have 7:47 seconds to spare you could start here with my
super secret crush John Green as he shares 25 Little Known Facts About Thanksgiving on Mental_Floss.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We will be celebrating with our own families but we’ll be checking in periodically so drop us a line if you feel like you need support. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive posts to your inbox.