Before you start reading this article, do me a favor. Put down what you're holding (in your hand or your head)—your shopping lists, your third cup of coffee, your date book, the phone call you should be making—and sit quietly for just 60 seconds. Take in a full breath, let it pool gently in the bottom of your lungs, and then release it slowly. Inhale deeply again, and exhale with an audible sigh. If you're at work, don't worry what your colleagues might think—this time of year everyone would love to sigh deeply, and often. Inhale again; exhale with a long "aaahh." With each exhalation, let your shoulders drop and your jaw relax. Do this a couple of times, with your eyes closed. Let the "aaahh" sound emerge from your belly, move up into your heart and drift out into space as you exhale, slowly, smoothly, steadily. Now, open your eyes and continue reading.
Hello? Anyone there? It felt good to escape for a minute, didn't it? But come on back—it's that time of year again: the modern miracle known as The Holidays
, when into the dark little month of December, we squeeze Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and a myriad of other celebrations, from ancient Solstice rituals to the more contemporary rites of school plays, office parties and community gatherings. Throw into that mix a generous dose of unrealistic expectations, budget-busting shopping, dysfunctional family feasts, airplane flights, darker days, colder weather, excess eating and drinking, and no wonder that along with "peace on earth, goodwill toward men," come seasonal stress, exhaustion and depression.
But this year you can do something to spin your stress into the gold that is the promise of the season. Understanding and relinquishing your unrealistic expectations are the best ways I know to beat the blues. 3 truths about the holidays that may help