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Staying Grounded During Holiday Chaos

By: Caitlin

It’s undeniable, the winter holidays are an intense time of year.

If you’re like me, as much as you love the holiday magic, the happenings can be downright overwhelming and overstimulating.  Rightly so— there is a lot going on!

We have more functions and parties to attend, not to mention more things on our to-do lists than any other time of year. The world seems to be moving faster than it usually does, and it can really stress us out!

Not to mention, if you’re like me and are traveling to your old childhood home, intense memories can definitely stir up some old sh*t, amiright?  Ugh.

Naturally, I’m a bit of a stressed out person {within reason}, but it’s not fun when a feeling of stress or anxiety slams against you at every outlet, even in a minor capacity.  And, for many of us, that can definitely happen during this time of year.

Being in the world of psychology, I was able to dissect this a bit further.

I found my biggest issue during the holiday season was not necessarily the stress, frequency, or even the events on my calendar themselves. For me, the trouble was not being able to have the time to deal with feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated by the holiday happenings. So I’ve made it my goal to find quick, quiet and easy ways I could ground myself when I began to feel overwhelmed or overstimulated, so I could get back into the moment to fully enjoy it.

Here are some simple tips and tricks that I suggest that you give a try if you’re needing help feeling grounded over the holidays.

In the moment

If you find yourself in a very overwhelmed or overstimulated state, these exercises help you to connect back to the current moment.

As an example: Picture yourself out at a family dinner and the music is so loud it’s disorienting. Then you see your ex sitting in the corner of the bar you’re visiting. Then you notice that there’s flickering lights everywhere, which leads to a massive headache.  And on and on until you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost.

In those times, I take these exercises and perform them quickly and quietly, either taking a step outside, or even at the dinner table if that’s your only choice. They’ll give you quick grounding and will help you get back to enjoying the moment with your friends and family.

Noticing by Fives

Go through each step and repeat if necessary.

  • Notice five sounds around you. Count them on your fingers.
  • Notice five objects in the room that are of similar shape (i.e. triangle, circle, square)
  • Find five objects in the room that are of similar color.
  • Find one item per each color of the rainbow, depending on where I am.
  • Notice five places the body is contacting the outside world (i.e. left food on ground, right foot on ottoman), or with itself (right hand on left knee, big toe to big toe).
  • Notice five smells or tastes in the moment.

Mirror Breath

Continue these breathing exercises, continuing to increase the duration of each breath until a count of seven.

  • Inhale for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, on the next inhale, inhale for five seconds, exhale for five seconds, increase to six seconds on the next.

After Just Waking Up, or Just Before Bed

I prefer to use these exercises at the very beginning or end of the day whenever I have the chance. They tend to be useful after I already feel or know I will feel overstimulated and overwhelmed throughout the day.  Consider them kind of like your mental warm-up or cool-down for the day.

“In Five Out Ten” Breathing Exercise

  • Breathe in for a count of five, exhale for ten.  Repeat 5-10 rounds

What do You Say, Miss Bod-ay?

This exercise is focused around paying to attention to what your body is saying to you. What are the areas of your body that need to relax and how can you focus your breath towards that area of your body specifically?

  • Sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” (yes, the old nursery rhyme) to bring awareness to all areas of your body. Where are you feel pain or tense energy?  Focus on relaxing those areas of your body.
  • Consider, “Are all of my needs met?” Are you hungry, thirsty? Maybe you just need some chapstick?
  • What else is your body saying to you and what can you do about it?

Focus on Gratitude

  • Write five things you’re grateful for that day? Why do those stand out in your mind?
  • Focus on those five things you listed. Go through them one-by-one, say thank you to each, and feel the flood of that gratitude in the moment.
  • Write down five things you feel were a success that for the day? Why are you grateful for those moments specifically?

We hope that the rest of your holiday season is as relaxing and rejuvenating as possible. See you in 2022!

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