The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and light, but somehow always seem to bring people into a place of stress and heaviness. Here are a couple of Alexander Technique tips to help you deal with family and frenzy as we enter this holiday season.
1. Don't Forget to Exhale
With all there is to do to get things ready for the holidays, whether it is making a meal, taking care of guests, finding presents, or finishing last minute work before the break it is amazingly easy for things to accelerate out of control. A simple way to counteract this feeling is to focus on not holding your breath and instead allowing your breath out on a long, unforced exhale. This will help to decelerate your heart beat, unclench your muscles, and you may even find time will slow down to a manageable pace. If you need a good way to do this for maximum effect, check out his blog on the classic Alexander exercise 'The Whispered Ah'.
2. Watch Out for Body Language Regression
When we are around our families, we all have a tendency to regress a little. It is useful to know that our bodies do as well--after a couple of hours I start moving like I'm a teenager again. Along with this come behaviors that are sometimes less mature and don't serve me. Be conscious of your body language, and instead of falling into the trap, see if you can leave your body gently alone by imagining your neck releasing when you start to tighten up (a key point in A.T. work). It also pays to be conscious of relaxing your jaw and eyes, as these are often also key points for tension release.
3. Take 'Time-Outs'
Even when things are really busy and stressful, you need to make sure to take care of yourself. So if you are overwhelmed (or your uncle decides it is necessary to comment on your vote in the last election), take a moment to yourself and try the Active Rest procedure to get back some internal and external space.
4. Remember That The Holidays (and You) Don't Have to Be Perfect
One of the things that puts the most pressure on us around the holidays is the sense that we somehow have to present some sort of ideal self. As simple as it seems, reminding ourselves that holidays are just another day and that we are still allowed to be human and faulty can go a long way to giving us a little mental space. The magic of it is that this will help everyone around you have a better time as well!
Thoughts on what is going on in the work and the world right now. Many posts to come.