Posted: December 14, 2012

The holidays can be a stressful time! From braving the Black Friday crowds to chaos at the airport, to inclement weather, to family gatherings, December can really take its toll if you’re not careful. I often find myself “falling off the Alexander wagon” when I go home to visit my folks. I unconsciously begin to assume many of the bad habits I had when I was younger. Out of nowhere I’m slouching over my plate and inhaling my food, pulling my arms in when I walk, and I’m definitely not able to remain calm when my mother starts asking about when the next grandkid is coming! Something about being in old places brings out old patterns.

As joyous as the season is, chances are you’ll hit some bumps this month. What can you do to keep yourself stress free and physically at ease?

1) Practice awareness. Even if that’s all you can do this season it’s enough. See if you can catch yourself when you feel that neck tighten or your jaw clench. Be curious about what you notice. Be mindful without judgment. Just for fun, observe the people around you. What do you notice about their patterns?

2) Stop. Just for a moment give yourself some room, some space. If you sense tightening, see if you can gently let go.

3) The way you think about the way you move affects the way you move. For example, did you ever think about where your head meets your spine? Place your index fingers in the hollow right in front of your ears. If you could send your fingers through your skull to meet in the center of your head you’d find the place where your head balances on top of your neck. It’s much deeper in and higher up than people assume. Just the thought of this delicate balance can ease tension throughout your whole body.

4) Less “relax”, more “release”. We tend to assume relaxation is the opposite of tension, but relaxation can subconsciously leave us in a heavy, collapsed state. This only leads to a different sort of tension because we begin to rely on the wrong muscles to hold us up. “Release” on the other hand helps us to let go of tightening, stress, and tension in a healthier way. You end up with freedom and flexibility rather than heaviness. And lets be honest, after all that ham and eggnog, do we really need more heaviness during the holidays?

Remember to carve out a little time for your health and wellbeing this holiday, even if it’s just for thirty seconds at a time! Stay present and enjoy the season ☺

Author
Jennifer Schulz is an AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher. She maintains a private practice in Los Angeles, CA

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