December 12, 2016

Tips for De-Stressing Over the Holidays.

A photo posted by Kat (@katarrrrina) on

While the holidays are a cherished time to spend with family and friends, it can also be stressful trying to juggle all the additional demands of the season.

This can be particularly challenging for empaths or sensitive people who tend to absorb the stressful energy of others in addition to their own anxiety.

To successfully navigate the strain of the holidays, it’s important to learn to de-stress. Consider making your home a place of retreat, not merely a stop-off point to plop yourself after work, or stare at the TV, or inhale a fast-food dinner.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much to start thinking about our homes as havens.

The way to start is to create a sacred space, a self-fashioned altar, which can’t easily be intruded upon. It’s a specific location in the home, a refuge where we can kick off our shoes, breathe deeply again, meditate, and re-join ourselves and our spirits. Just knowing we have our own spot can be reassuring; we know it’s there as a back-up if things start falling apart.

Our sacred space may be in a separate bedroom, nook, or alcove, or it can become part of an office in the home. My patients who have young children and limited square footage often assemble one out of reach in their closets. Wherever you choose, it’s ideal to be able to shut the door and to select a site where guests don’t go, one you can designate “off limits” to your kids or mate, at least for designated blocks of time. A sacred space isn’t supposed to be a conversation piece, but rather a refueling sanctuary.

Think of it as a vacation spot—a place to go when life gets busy or we need an energy-refresh. No matter how stressed we are or how our mind is reeling, sitting in this atmosphere of stillness slows everything down and centers us.

Here are additional tips to creating your own scared space and home retreat:

Scout your home for a location for which you feel an affinity. 

This may be an obvious choice, or it might require some imagination. If you’re not sure, audition locations for privacy and comfort. See how they feel. You don’t have to make this a big production: start with a candle, light it, close your eyes. Then sit quietly focusing on your breath while actively meditating on opening your heart. Even five minutes can lessen frustration or fatigue. After meditating in the same spot, a vortex of positive energy builds—all that heart percolating in one locale.

Some of my patients also use this space to think out decisions, mull over the day, or write in their journals. You can try that too. Gradually bring items there that spiritually uplift, beautify, or contain meaning: flowers, shells, a photo of your dog or other intimates, or holy talismans and symbols (conventionally religious or not).

Use your scared space use as a retreat to eliminate external impositions that gnaw at your energy.

The open-ended time you spend in your retreat to meditate, contemplate, listen to beautiful music, read poetry, or even be silent fills your well with energy and helps you to de-stress from life’s challenges.

There are various options for home retreats:

>> If you live alone, create your own: pick a time, get coverage for business or other concerns, turn off the phones, and dive into whatever replenishes.

>> With a mate, you can plan a joint retreat, a deep and quiet intimacy. Together determine the length of time, preferred activities, and how you want to design it. Your retreat may be spent separately or with each other.

>> If you’re comfortable with your mate being at home but not participating, agree on parameters: How long is your retreat? Are you going to interact? Be silent? Would you prefer the TV off? The phone unplugged in specified rooms? No knocking on your door? Negotiate and observe these terms.

>> If your mate can’t or doesn’t want to take a home retreat, go solo. Choose an agreed upon period when he or she is out. Sensitively, say, “This is a time to recharge myself. It means so much to me that you respect this.” Then, to avoid intrusions, set a specific point to rendezvous later. Some mates will understand; with others it’s a process of gentle education.

>> If you have young children, a home retreat is a much bigger challenge. For you to have peace, they must be out of the house, so you’ll need to arrange for child care. Otherwise you’ll always have an ear open for them. Also, like some of my exhausted parent-patients you might find you fall asleep during this lull. That’s fine too; think of it as a period of hallowed replenishment.

Home retreats take household planning and good communication with family. The effort is well worth it. Retreats are a merciful pardon from the daily grind. They spare us the schlepping of travel and provide a geographically desirable strategy to cultivate energy in a frenetic world.


Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s ”Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love.” 


Author: Judith Orloff

Image: @katarrrrina; Fair Use 

Editor: Emily Bartran

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