Let’s all admit it: The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Sure, it’s joyful to spend time with family, to cook, to decorate, to give generously to others—but at the same time, it’s a lot. Whether the present-buying pressures have you worried about your finances, or you’re trying to side-step heated political debates at the dinner table, or you’re feeling the loss of a loved one during this time, many of us are feeling some stress right now. Luckily, there are some easy ways to calm yourself down when things reach a fever pitch, and they’ve been hiding in each issue of Real Simple magazine all year long, on our “Ahhh” page, which offers a fresh breathing exercise each month. Below, we’ve rounded up our best breathing exercises for anxiety and mini meditations you can do anywhere. Our recommendation: Bookmark this page so you can follow one of these breathing exercises whenever and wherever stress hits. Ahhh…we’re feeling better already.
A Warming, Sea-Inspired Breathing Exercise for Anxiety
You know how you can hold a seashell up to your ear and immediately be transported to the ocean, listening to the sound of the waves? At this time of year, it’s easy to get both stressed out and shiveringly cold. Try this breathing technique anytime you need a little beach escape to settle the mind and generate some internal warmth—you can even do it while walking around shopping for gifts. Start with a couple of breaths in and out of the mouth just to get going. With each long exhale, make a gentle ahhh sound. Then transition to breathing in through your nose and out the mouth. Imagine you’re trying to fog up a mirror. Now, what if you tried to make that same sound while exhaling through the nose? Can you find a similar sound as you inhale through the nose too? Keep going for another 10 to 20 breaths and let these slow, oceanic breaths warm and soothe your nervous system. —Edward Jones, wheelandaxle.net