Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. For many of us, it’s a bitter-sweet season. Fall signals the beginning of the holiday season. Over the next three months, people will be celebrating and taking part in a variety of traditions. It’s a season often shared with family, friends, and loved ones. We are remembering the good times and sharing food and gifts. We see Christmas lights going up. Christmas displays are already up in many stores, and some had Christmas displays up in October! For some of us, this season also brings pain – the pain felt for those who are not here to share this season with us. A mixture of memories and feelings that we try to hide behind a mask of joy and excitement. What can we say? We feel many emotions too. We have lost loved ones. We have experienced trauma. How do we make it through?
Take a breath. Seriously, please take a deep breath all the way down to your belly and let it out slowly. Belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing creates a shift from your sympathetic nervous system (your stress response) to the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation. Many studies have been conducted on the benefits of breathing techniques, mindfulness practices, and biofeedback (NIH). Different breathing exercises can help you manage stress and anxiety. Try it and see how you feel. This holiday season, be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with compassion. Take things one moment at a time and one breath at a time.