By Sarah Fangmeyer
Christmastime is often lauded as "the most wonderful time of the year," but it can feel more like the most stressful. Between a to-do-before-Christmas list as long as your arm and an abundance of festive activities, it's all too easy to let self-care go out the window. But the truth is that taking that extra moment to quiet can be the difference between a holiday season that leaves you exasperated and one that leaves you restored and renewed for the new year.
According to Dr. Allen Schore, a professor at UCLA, the ability to quiet—to lower your own energy level so you can rest—is the "strongest predictor of good mental health for a lifetime." So as life starts to gain momentum, here are some easy ways to quiet and thrive in the midst of the most hectic time of the year.
Set a reminder on your phone to quiet for three minutes every hour
...Or every half hour, or every two hours, whatever works for you. As you practice quieting regularly, it becomes easier and easier to quiet on demand. Check out our "guerilla-style," guided quieting exercise. To begin, Betsy will lead you through quieting your body.
Now that you're nice and relaxed, if you like you can start breathing deeply. Taking a deep breath can be one of the most powerful tools to quiet, and it's so easy to do! Just breathe in, slowly, deeply... 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... and breathe out... 1... 2... 3... 4... 5.... Repeat 8 or 9 times and notice how it helps your body and mind relax and recharge! Check out our "guerilla-style," guided breathing exercise to experience the power of breathing.
Take a moment to focus on something you are sincerely grateful for. It could be anything, such as a beautiful landscape or a fun time with friends. It doesn't have to be spiritual in nature, though it can be. Remember it in detail, and focus on the good feelings that you felt. Rest in this moment. If you find it difficult to focus, it might be helpful to write about your appreciation moment rather than just thinking about it.
Shalom for my Body
I would be lying if I claimed I've never hid in the bathroom doing Shalom for my Body when I've felt overwhelmed. Shalom for my Body is an exercise based on neuroscience that helps you to quiet even when quieting seems impossible. See this handout or this video for instructions.
Recall a time when you experienced a close connection with God that was joyful and/or peaceful. Focus on how you felt in that moment, and name those good emotions. You can even locate where in your body you are experiencing those positive feelings and describe the sensation. If you cannot think of a “Five Bar” Moment, don't stress! Just try out a different method of quieting, such as appreciation.
Read the Bible
When we read the Scriptures, we want to focus on listening to God so that he can reveal what he wants to reveal to us through a given passage. Read a passage slowly, several times, and ask God to reveal what you need to see and hear. Listen while you read; let it be a conversation with him.