The holiday season is officially here! Every year I keep telling myself that I’m going to get all my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. Every year I get closer, but alas, I haven’t made that deadline yet. Maybe you’re the type of person who is organized and has all your presents bought and wrapped, the Christmas tree decorated and lights on the house the day after Thanksgiving. God bless you. Many of us wait til the last minute to shop for gifts and many of us get stressed. Some may wait until the last minute to shop. I’m somewhere in between. Either way, are you stressed this time of year? In my book, “4 Minutes to HAPPY” (which makes a great Christmas gift!), you’ll get tips for having less stress during the holidays or anytime.
Being healthy and happy is based not only on what we eat and how we exercise but also on how we think and feel. Scientists are discovering how our emotions affect our health. We’ve all heard stories about couples that have been together for a long time, and after one of them died, the other soon followed, although he or she had no terminal health problems. Broken Heart Syndrome is real.
If you experience negative emotions from the loss of a loved one, depression, or a physical illness, you might find some relief with meditation, relaxation, and finding things to distract you during difficult times. When weekly debilitating migraines left me bedridden and nothing—not even prescription drugs—would abort the pain, I tried an unconventional meditation exercise that brought relief. Let’s try it together:
Put your hand on your chest, and feel your heartbeat. Focus on slowing down your breath and relaxing every part of your body, beginning at your head, down through your jaw, your shoulders, chest, arms, legs, and toes. Imagine that every cell is operating at its utmost potential. Perfectly Envision every muscle and bone healthy and strong.
Bring your awareness to your breath. Pretend you’re breathing through a straw slowly. Inhale to the count of ten and exhale quietly and carefully. Try to intentionally decrease your heartbeat. Listen to your surroundings and give yourself permission to let go of any tension.
We live in a world that exposes us to way too much information. Take a look at network or cable news programs; watch the constant news ticker running with breaking stories while the newscaster is interjecting information. Note the station logo in the corner and the backdrop of moving designs. Unfortunately, we have become used to information overload; we need to be still and listen to the messages our bodies are communicating.
Studies show that we can lower blood pressure, the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and diminish anxiety just by being still and calming our bodies and minds. Meditation helps the mind find a happy ground where it’s not working so hard. It helps control anxious and negative thoughts. When we are happy, we function at a healthier, more efficient rate, which causes less strain on our organs and more peace of mind.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Luke 12:25
Some of us take on unwarranted anxiety. We’re a nation—a world—of overachievers; we do too much, and we think too much. In this highly advanced technological age, it’s normal to multitask—driving and talking on the phone; walking and texting; or even driving, texting, and talking. That has to stop. Not only is it dangerous, since distracted driving causes many accidents, it’s also unhealthy.
Like carrying a heavy suitcase, stress and negative emotions can weigh us down. We add more and more things to our to-do lists and then wonder why we don’t feel good. How many errands, hardships, and negative thoughts can you stuff in that suitcase?
What can you do?
In the pockets of your time, at a stop light, waiting in line, or when you find your anxiety level increasing, focus only on your breath — and pray. Ask God for peace and grace. Many of us think too much about too many things.
In one of my favorite movies, The Last Samurai, a samurai warrior teaches Tom Cruise’s character (Nathan) how to fight with a sword, but he also shares life lessons about overthinking. Here’s the conversation:
Warrior: Please forgive. Too many mind[s].
Nathan (Tom): Too many mind?
Warrior: Mind sword, mind people watch, mind enemy.
Our minds can become the enemy when we overthink. We try to do everything and to please everyone (or is that just me?). Living life more slowly and mindfully will improve your focus and attention and reduce your heart rate, blood pressure, and risk of stroke. Slowing down helps you appreciate the simple things and all the things with which you’re blessed. Never miss a chance to smell the flowers. Just for today, do things with more kindness and grace.
- Turn off your cell phone for at least a couple of hours a day.
- Take a deep breath and count to four when you’re about to explode.
- Don’t take your loved ones for granted.
- Stop and smell the flowers.
- Look at the starry night sky.
- Be a better listener.
My book, 4 minutes to happy is available on amazon.com & barnes&noble.com & makes a great gift! If you’re looking for a 2022 journal, check out my favorite undated, all-natural, guided journal: https://journalsunlimited.com/shop/day-planner-mind-body-spirit-journal-blue/
Printed in the USA
Acid-free recycled paper
Durable hard cover design